The study showed that we overestimate the development of consciousness in children

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It is believed that children of preschool age already understand that other people also have their own desires, intentions and beliefs, true and false. Psychologists call this ability to model the mental state or the theory of mind, and in the highest manifestation, it allows us to realize that its own mental state is not identical to the mental state of another person. A new study conducted in the United States among 580 children aged 4 to 7 years is questioned that many psychologists considered an immutable fact.

Test Sally-Ann, appeared in the 1980s, shows that children are able to realize false beliefs. A typical experiment looks like this: a certain person, let’s call him Maxi, puts the chocolate in the blue box. Then he leaves the room where his mother comes. A child watching this scene sees how she pulls out the chocolate and puts it into a green box. When it comes out, Maxi appears again. Then the child ask what a box will open Maxi in search of chocolate.

For decades, this experiment showed: 90% of preschoolers think that Maxi will open the blue box. That is, they put themselves in place of another person and make conclusion on the basis of information available to him. But what if all this time scientists incorrectly interpreted the results?

Researchers from Arizona University slightly changed the experiment by adding the third, red box. And the results immediately became others

Preschool children understand that Maxi does not know that the chocolate in the green box, because he did not see her mother there. And it is believed that either red, or a green box — the wrong choice. Although they understand that knowledge is based on observation, their response does not take into account the memoirs that Maxi put the chocolate in the blue box. And if there are only two boxes, then the children give the correct default response.

However, if the boxes are becoming three, they begin to guess the right answer, which means that in fact they do not understand the motives of Maxi, his mental processes. This is confirmed by another experimental option: if the mother comes into the room, but does not shift the chocolate, they also believe that the maxi will look into the green box, and not in the blue where he put it. In other words, they do not understand that Maxi could remember where he hid his bar.

If researchers are right, and preschoolers do not possess a developed model of a mental state, then the psychologists should be adjusted to the expectations and requirements that are presented to children of 4-5 years and younger. Perhaps when one child takes from another toy, he does not understand why he starts crying.

Large-scale study of British scientists


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