Making inferences between counterfactual and real worlds: developmental evidence

Colda, Livia Ioana (2015). Making inferences between counterfactual and real worlds: developmental evidence. University of Birmingham. M.Sc.

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In two investigations we explored whether different aspects of counterfactual tasks, such as an alternative response mode, a different question type and additional clarifying wording could influence children's performance on such tasks.

Our first investigation manipulated the response mode by allowing children answering to a counterfactual task either by arrow or finger pointing, and the question type by using both standard tasks in which children were told a story and had to generate counterfactual alternatives to it and counterfactual-to-reality stories where children had to infer reality from a given counterfactual. The arrow manipulation proved to be fragile and did not influence children's performance on counterfactual tasks. The question type manipulation suggested an asymmetry between the real and the counterfactual world, with inferring reality from counterfactual alternatives easier than the reverse.

Our second investigation explored whether children's performance on complex counterfactual trials, such as the discriminating trials used by Rafetseder, Schwitalla, and Perner (2013) could be supported by additional clarifying wording. We demonstrated that although children found complex counterfactual trials difficult at the age of 5 and 6, additional wording did significantly improve their performance. Children's counterfactual responses to this sort of task were supported through additional wording.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Sc.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Sc.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology


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