ERIC Number: ED339507
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Quechua Children's Theory of Mind.
McCormick, Penelope G.; Olson, David R.
Three different theory of mind tasks were conducted with 4- to 8-year-old Quechua peasant children in the Peruvian Andes. The study investigated the ways in which children in preliterate cultures think and the possibility that they think differently than children in literate cultures. The tasks included: (1) a false-belief task, which tested the child's ability to represent another's mistaken belief; (2) an appearance/reality task, which tested the child's ability to represent both an object's appearance and what the object is; and (3) a representational change task, which tested the child's ability to represent both a false belief the child had previously held, and the child's present belief about an object. All three experiments were conducted in Quechua by a native Quechua speaker. Two major observations are reported. First, Quechua children of the ages studied appeared to have difficulty following the details of a story, even when the story was acted out with props. Second, the children had difficulty with questions that probed their understanding of their own and others' thoughts. The data suggest that Quechua children do not develop a theory of mind in early childhood that is comparable to the relatively complex theory of mind that young children in Western literate cultures develop. Although they may develop some metarepresentational capacity, they may not apply it to their own thoughts and the thoughts of others. This suggests that the development of a theory of mind may not be universal. Contains 12 references. (LB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ottawa (Ontario).; Ministry of Education, Quebec (Canada).
Authoring Institution: Ontario Inst. for Studies in Education, Toronto.
Identifiers: Peru; Preliterate Societies; Quechua People; Theory of Mind
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (Seattle, WA, April 18-20, 1991).