Do complement clauses with first- or third-person perspective support false-belief reasoning? : A training study with English-speaking three-year-olds

Boeg Thomsen, Ditte and Kandemirci, Birsu and Theakston, Anna and Brandt, Silke (2024) Do complement clauses with first- or third-person perspective support false-belief reasoning? : A training study with English-speaking three-year-olds. Developmental Psychology. ISSN 0012-1649 (In Press)

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Abstract

To investigate whether acquisition of the perspective-marking grammar of complement-clause constructions supports progression in children’s false-belief reasoning, we conducted a training study with 76 English-speaking three-year-olds from the North-West of England (age range: 3;0-3;10 years, 50% female, 80% White). Children were randomly assigned to one of three maximally comparable training conditions, and in a four-week eight-session program, all children participated in the same training activities with mental-state contrasts. Depending on condition, activities were mediated linguistically with either simple clauses, first-person complements or third-person complements. The study addressed critical confounds in previous training studies by avoiding the use of complement clauses in false-belief tests and controlling individual differences in memory, executive functioning, general language and pretest proficiency with complement clauses. The results yielded strong support for the hypothesis of a causal influence of complement-clause exposure on false-belief progression, as children trained with first-person complements advanced significantly more in false-belief reasoning from pretest to posttest than children trained with simple clauses. Examining the roles of first- and third-person complements, a direct comparison between progression in the two complement-clause conditions showed no significant difference, but only children trained with first-person complements progressed significantly more than children in the control condition trained with simple clauses. Follow-up analyses suggested that first- and third-person complements each support false-belief progression at different stages of development.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Developmental Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Research Output Funding/yes_externally_funded
Subjects:
?? yes - externally fundedyesdemographylife-span and life-course studiesdevelopmental and educational psychology ??
ID Code:
220433
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
23 May 2024 13:10
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
In Press
Last Modified:
24 May 2024 03:05