Get access

Chinese preschoolers’ implicit and explicit false-belief understanding


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Jason Low, School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand (e-mail:


Mandarin-speaking preschoolers in Mainland China (3- to 4-year-olds; N= 192) were tested for dissociations between anticipatory looking (AL) and verbal judgments on false-belief tasks. The dissociation between the two kinds of understanding was robust despite direct false-belief test questions using a Mandarin specific think-falsely verb and despite participants living in a culture that promotes early self-control. Children showed coherent AL across different belief-formation scenarios. Manipulation of inhibitory demand in the false-belief task did not affect preschoolers’ verbal judgments any more than their AL, and yet separate measures executive function correlated only with direct judgments and not looking responses. The findings are discussed in terms of an implicit–explicit cognitive systems account of false-belief understanding.