Upcoming Training Experiment on the Development of Second-order False Belief Reasoning

We are designing a new experiment in which we will train children of ages 5 and 6 with second-order false belief stories to investigate which kind of feedback (if any) will help them. Second-order false belief stories are stories in which the children are asked to attribute a second-order belief such as “Marja thinks that Ken thinks that she took potatoes”, where the children know that Marja’s belief is in fact false. For this purpose, we constructed 34 stories with related pictures. All of the pictures have been designed by the professional artist Avik Kumar Maitra.

You can find one of the stories and the related pictures below:

Ken and Marja are friends. They are going to cook together at Ken’s home. Marja says to Ken: “ I am going to my home to get potatoes”, and she leaves to go to her home.

Then, Ken’s mother comes home, and she tells Ken that she just visited Marja’s        mother. “Did they have potatoes at their home?”, asks Ken. “No” says Mum, “They     didn’t have potatoes anymore, but they do have spaghetti.” “Then Marja will            probably get spaghetti”, says Ken.

Probe question 1: Does Marja know that they have spaghetti at their home?

Marja arrives at her home. “I want to take potatoes to cook with Ken”, she says to her  mum. “Unfortunately the potatoes are gone, I only have rice for you”, says mum. Rice is also nice, so Marja takes the rice with her.

Probe question 2: Does Ken know that Marja took the rice?

First-order false belief question: What does Ken think that Marja took from her house to cook? Why does he think that?

On the way to Ken’s house, Marja meets grandma. She says to grandma: “I just took   rice from home and I am going to cook it with Ken at his home”. “That is nice”, says   grandma. “Does Ken know what you took?”

Ignorance question: What does Marja say to grandma?

And then grandma asks: “What does Ken think that you took?”

Second-order false belief question: What does Marja say to grandma?Why does she think that?

Prof. dr. Rineke (L.C.) Verbrugge

PhD candidate Burcu Arslan





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