A longitudinal, microgenetic study of the emergence of false belief understanding and inhibition skills

Emma Flynn*, Claire O'Malley, David Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Two theories that attempt to explain the relationship between false belief understanding and inhibition skills were investigated: (1) theory of mind development improves self-control, and (2) executive control is necessary for developing a theory of mind. A microgenetic approach was adopted, with a group of 21 children completing a battery of inhibition and false belief understanding tasks every four weeks for six phases of testing. The results showed that the majority of children were able to perform well on a test of executive inhibition before having a good understanding of false beliefs, thus supporting theory (2). The results also illustrated that while the children's inhibition skills developed relatively gradually, their understanding of false beliefs progressed from a consistent lack of understanding through a period of unstable performance, during which some children failed tests that they had previously passed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-115
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental science
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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