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ERIC Number: EJ1050312
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jan
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 17
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
When Will Little Red Riding Hood Become Scared? Children's Attribution of Mental States to a Story Character
Ronfard, Samuel; Harris, Paul L.
Developmental Psychology, v50 n1 p283-292 Jan 2014
As children listen to a simple action-based narrative, they construct a dynamic representation of the protagonist's movements, visual perspective, and goal-directed thoughts. We examined children's representations of more complex narratives in which the protagonist will encounter an unexpected outcome upon reaching his or her goal. Three studies involving 105 children between 3 and 6 years of age showed that children shifted in the mental states they attributed depending on the distance of the protagonist from the unexpected outcome. Even though children consistently recognized that the protagonist did not know about the surprise at any point, they increasingly attributed feelings and thoughts consistent with the surprise. The studies highlight the degree to which children's mental state attributions are dynamic rather than fixed by their current theory of mind.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts