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Title: Realism and representation in children's early conception of mind
Author: Saltmarsh, R. A.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1995
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The aim of this thesis was to investigate why young children fail false belief tests and to assess whether this failure could be caused by their propensity to attend to current reality. In the first series of experiments we filmed the child carrying out a false belief test and then replaying the initial part of the film back to her. Under this condition, the child was more likely to later acknowledge her false belief than when tested on a standard task. In our second series of experiments we replicated Wimmer and Hartl's (1991) finding that children are more likely to give a correct response in the state change procedure than in the deceptive box procedure. We discovered that this was also true for children with autism. Wimmer and Hartl suggested that children gave the correct response by referring to the earlier situation rather than to their prior belief. However, we found that even when children were asked to identify a false belief within the state change procedure, children were significantly more likely to succeed than they were on a standard task. In addition, we discovered that on the true belief state change task, children could not have been giving the correct response simply by glossing the test question to one concerning reality. We discuss our findings within the framework of the reality masking hypothesis which suggests that current reality is more salient to young children than are beliefs. Therefore although preschool children do understand something of the representational nature of beliefs, this is masked by their inclination to attend to reality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available