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How Does It Look? Level 2 Perspective-Taking at 36 Months of Age


  • Henrike Moll is now at the Department for Comparative and Developmental Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig.

  • We would like to thank Craig Harris for his helpful ideas; Dominik Acala, Calle Fisher, and Alison Alhadeff for assistance with data collection’ and the families who participated in the studies. This research project was supported by a Dilthey Fellowship awarded to the first author by the VolkswagenStiftung, funds generously provided by the Kenneth and Marleen Alhadeff Foundation, and a Science of Learning Center grant from the National Science Foundation (SBE-0354453). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of these agencies.

concerning this article should be addressed to Henrike Moll, Department for Comparative and Developmental Anthropology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 04103 Leipzig, Germany. Electronic mail may be sent to


Previous research has found that children engage in Level 2 visual perspective-taking, that is, the understanding that others may see things in a different way, between 4 and 5 years of age (e.g., J. H. Flavell, B. A. Everett, K. Croft, & E. R. Flavell, 1981). This ability was reexamined in 36-month-olds using color filters. In Experiment 1 (N = 24), children had to recognize how an object looked to an adult when she saw it through a color filter. In Experiment 2 (N = 24), a novel production test was applied. Results of both studies show that 36-month-olds know how an object looks to another person. The discussion focuses on the psychological requirements of visual perspective-taking and its relation to other “theory of mind” abilities, such as the distinction between appearance and reality and understanding false belief.