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 contribution||What makes strategic deception difficult for children - the deception or the strategy?|
|Pages (from-to)||301 - 314|
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||British Journal of Developmental Psychology|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 1994|