Do 15-Month-Old Infants Understand False Beliefs?

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Science  08 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5719, pp. 255-258
DOI: 10.1126/science.1107621

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For more than two decades, researchers have argued that young children do not understand mental states such as beliefs. Part of the evidence for this claim comes from preschoolers' failure at verbal tasks that require the understanding that others may hold false beliefs. Here, we used a novel nonverbal task to examine 15-month-old infants' ability to predict an actor's behavior on the basis of her true or false belief about a toy's hiding place. Results were positive, supporting the view that, from a young age, children appeal to mental states—goals, perceptions, and beliefs—to explain the behavior of others.

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