Searching and Planning: Young Children’s Reasoning About Past and Future Event Sequences

Authors

  • Kerry L. McColgan,

    Corresponding author
    1. Queen’s University Belfast
      concerning this article should be addressed to Kerry L. McColgan, School of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, United Kingdom. Electronic mail may be sent to k.l.t.mccolgan@warwick.ac.uk.
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    • Kerry L. McColgan is now at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

  • Teresa McCormack

    1. Queen’s University Belfast
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  • This work was supported by a PhD studentship awarded to the first author by the Department of Education and Learning, Northern Ireland, and by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council awarded to the second author.

concerning this article should be addressed to Kerry L. McColgan, School of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, United Kingdom. Electronic mail may be sent to k.l.t.mccolgan@warwick.ac.uk.

Abstract

Six experiments examined children’s ability to make inferences using temporal order information. Children completed versions of a task involving a toy zoo; one version required reasoning about past events (search task) and the other required reasoning about future events (planning task). Children younger than 5 years failed both the search and the planning tasks, whereas 5-year-olds passed both (Experiments 1 and 2). However, when the number of events in the sequence was reduced (Experiment 3), 4-year-olds were successful on the search task but not the planning task. Planning difficulties persisted even when relevant cues were provided (Experiments 4 and 5). Experiment 6 showed that improved performance on the search task found in Experiment 3 was not due to the removal of response ambiguity.

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