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Article
Early False-Belief Understanding in Three Traditional Non-Western Societies
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • H. Clark Barrett
  • Tanya Broesch
  • Rose M. Scott
  • Zijing He
  • Renée Baillargeon
  • Di Wu, Cedarville University
  • Matthias Bolz
  • Joseph Henrich
  • Peipei Setoh
  • Jianxin Wang
  • Stephen Laurence
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
3-1-2013
DOI
http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.2654
PubMed ID
23363628
PubMed Central® ID
PMC3574387
Abstract
The psychological capacity to recognize that others may hold and act on false beliefs has been proposed to reflect an evolved, species-typical adaptation for social reasoning in humans; however, controversy surrounds the developmental timing and universality of this trait. Cross-cultural studies using elicited-response tasks indicate that the age at which children begin to understand false beliefs ranges from 4 to 7 years across societies, whereas studies using spontaneous-response tasks with Western children indicate that false-belief understanding emerges much earlier, consistent with the hypothesis that false-belief understanding is a psychological adaptation that is universally present in early childhood. To evaluate this hypothesis, we used three spontaneous-response tasks that have revealed early false-belief understanding in the West to test young children in three traditional, non-Western societies: Salar (China), Shuar/Colono (Ecuador) and Yasawan (Fiji). Results were comparable with those from the West, supporting the hypothesis that false-belief understanding reflects an adaptation that is universally present early in development.
Keywords
  • Cognition,
  • evolution,
  • behavior,
  • theory of mind,
  • evolutionary psychology,
  • false-belief understanding,
  • social cognition,
  • human universals,
  • child development,
  • cross-cultural comparison
Citation Information
H. Clark Barrett, Tanya Broesch, Rose M. Scott, Zijing He, et al.. "Early False-Belief Understanding in Three Traditional Non-Western Societies" Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Vol. 280 Iss. 1755 (2013)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/di_wu/27/