Knowing that I didn't know: preschoolers' understanding of their own false belief is a predictor of assents to fictitious events



The present study examines the relation between children's theory of mind abilities and their tendency to assent to fictitious events when questioned repeatedly across interviews. Children between the ages of 3 and 6 years were interviewed individually either four or seven times about a fictitious and a real staged event, and in addition given a false belief test as well as a fantasy-reality distinction test. Children's performance on the false belief task addressing the understanding of their own false belief was a better predictor for assents to false events than was understanding the false belief of another person, age, number of interviews and performance on a fantasy-reality distinction task. Children's memory for a staged event showed that repeated questions across interviews was related to a decrease in correct assents to having experienced a staged event, an increase in wrong yes-responses about touch and erroneously mentioning names of children who had not been present during the staged event. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.