The research reported here was conducted with support from a research bursary from the Experimental Psychology Society, UK.
Developmental Continuity in Theory of Mind: Speed and Accuracy of Belief–Desire Reasoning in Children and Adults
Article first published online: 29 AUG 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Child Development © 2011 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 82, Issue 5, pages 1691–1703, September/October 2011
How to Cite
Apperly, I. A., Warren, F., Andrews, B. J., Grant, J. and Todd, S. (2011), Developmental Continuity in Theory of Mind: Speed and Accuracy of Belief–Desire Reasoning in Children and Adults. Child Development, 82: 1691–1703. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01635.x
- Issue published online: 7 SEP 2011
- Article first published online: 29 AUG 2011
On belief–desire reasoning tasks, children first pass tasks involving true belief before those involving false belief, and tasks involving positive desire before those involving negative desire. The current study examined belief–desire reasoning in participants old enough to pass all such tasks. Eighty-three 6- to 11-year-olds and 20 adult participants completed simple, computer-based tests of belief–desire reasoning, which recorded response times as well as error rates. Both measures suggested that, like young children, older children and adults find it more difficult to reason about false belief and negative desires than true beliefs and positive desires. It is argued that this developmental continuity is most consistent with either executive competence or executive performance accounts of the development of belief–desire reasoning.