What makes strategic deception difficult for children - the deception or the strategy?

J Russell, C Jarrold, D Potel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Tests of strategic deception are normally assumed to measure children's understanding of mental representation and to demonstrate 3-year-old's lack of such understanding. However they also make significant executive demands, namely: (a) provisional disengagement from a target object whilst (b) indicating a place where the target is absent. If these executive requirements constitute the core difficulty with strategic deception, young children should continue to fail such tests when there is no opponent to deceive but when the executive requirements are unchanged. Experiment 1 showed that removing the opponent did not affect the behaviour of 3-year-old subjects: they typically referred to the object location on the first test trial and often continued to do so throughout the subsequent 20 trials. Experiment 2 showed that the younger children's difficulty was caused by knowledge of the target's location not by sight of it. We discuss these data in terms of the possibility that there may be an executive contribution to the age 3-4 year transition in mental knowledge; but also caution that the role of executive factors in strategic deception should ideally be assessed by mechanical procedures.
Translated title of the contributionWhat makes strategic deception difficult for children - the deception or the strategy?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301 - 314
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1994

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