ERIC Number: ED334006
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
First Order Beliefs and Higher Order Intentions: Wanting To and Wanting That.
Children's understanding of a first order false belief was compared with their understanding of a third order embedding of mental states, defined as "an intention about a false belief about an intention." Subjects were 72 Canadian middle-class children who were 3, 4, or 5 years of age. Materials were playfigures of a mother, little boy, girl, friend, and a toy playhouse. Each subject was presented with four scenarios involving the playfigures in the playhouse. Two scenarios assessed understanding of a higher order belief and two assessed understanding of a first order belief. Findings indicated that tasks that involved a third order embedding of mental states were no more difficult for preschoolers to understand than were tasks involving the false belief alone. Findings also supported the notion that intentions and beliefs do not pose the same representational problems. While a false belief must be construed as a representation, an intention may be interpreted simply as a link between a person and an object. It is concluded that an analysis in terms of the number of levels of mental states seems to be simplistic. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Canada; Representational Thinking
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (Seattle, WA, April 18-20, 1991).