Breaking the rules: Do infants have a true understanding of false belief?
Article first published online: 22 SEP 2011
© 2011 The British Psychological Society
British Journal of Developmental Psychology
Special Issue: Implicit and explicit theory of mind Guest edited by Jason Low and Josef Perner
Volume 30, Issue 1, pages 156–171, March 2012
How to Cite
Yott, J. and Poulin-Dubois, D. (2012), Breaking the rules: Do infants have a true understanding of false belief?. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 30: 156–171. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-835X.2011.02060.x
- Issue published online: 16 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 22 SEP 2011
- Received 1 March 2011; revised version received 8 August 2011
It has been suggested that infants’ performance on the false belief task can be explained by the use of behavioural rules. To test this hypothesis, 18-month-old infants were trained to learn the new rule that an object that disappeared in location A could be found in location B. Infants were then administered a false belief task based on the violation of expectation (VOE) paradigm, an intention understanding task, and a modified detour-reaching task. Results revealed that infants looked significantly longer at the display when the experimenter looked for the toy in the full box (box with the toy) compared to infants who observed the experimenter search in the empty box (box without the toy). Results also revealed significant correlations between infants’ looking time at the display and their scores on the intention task and on the detour-reaching task. Taken together, these findings suggest that infants possess an implicit understanding of false belief. In addition, they challenge the view that success on the implicit false belief task does not require executive functioning abilities.