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ERIC Number: EJ777219
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Nov
Pages: 22
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0305-0009
False Belief Understanding in Cantonese-Speaking Children
Tardif, Twila; Wellman, Henry M.; Cheung, Kar Man
Journal of Child Language, v31 n4 p779-800 Nov 2004
The present study investigates the performance of 96 Cantonese-speaking three- to five-year-old preschoolers on three false belief tasks--a deceptive object, a change of location, and an unexpected contents task encompassing a variety of task factors. Most importantly, the research examines the possibility that false belief performance depends on specific linguistic factors such as the type of verb used in the test question--an explicitly false vs. a neutral belief verb. Cantonese was chosen as particularly useful for examining this question because it explicitly codes belief status as either neutral ("nam5") or false ("ji5wai4"), and because it offers additional linguistic and cultural contrasts to research conducted on false belief with children learning English and other Indo-European languages. As expected, a strong age effect was found, as well as a significant advantage for children who received the explicit false belief ("ji5wai4") wording and for those who were asked to explain rather than predict the protagonist's actions. Interestingly, there was also a strong task difference with children performing better on the deceptive object task than on the other two false belief tasks. We argue that these results point both to universal trajectories in theory of mind development and to interesting, but localized, effects of language and culture on children's false belief understanding. [Funding for this research was also given by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council.]
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Inst. of Child Health and Human Development (NIH), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A