Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Preschool Years (3–5)

What is the false belief task?

There are a number of false belief tasks that have been used to study the theory of mind as understood by a child of preschool age. In one such test, a child is shown two boxes. One is marked “band-aids” and the other is not. The child is asked which box contains band-aids. Most children point to the marked box. After this they are shown that the band-aids are actually kept in the unmarked box. When the question is repeated, they now point to the unmarked box. Next, the children are introduced to a puppet named Pam. They are then asked to point to the box where Pam believes the band-aids to be. While typical three-year-olds will point to the unmarked box, the typical four-year-old will point to the marked box, thus demonstrating an understanding of Pam’s false belief.


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