Making sense of early false-belief understanding

By Katharina A. Helming, Brent Strickland & Pierre Jacob.

Abstract: We address the puzzle about early belief ascription: young children fail elicited-response false-belief tasks, but they demonstrate spontaneous false-belief under- standing. Based on recent converging evidence, we articulate a pragmatic framework to solve this puzzle. Young children do understand the contents of others’ false belief, but they are overwhelmed when they must simultaneously make sense of two distinct actions: the instrumental action of a mistaken agent and the experimenter’s communicative action.