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Children's understanding of false representations

Iao, Lai-Sang 2010. Children's understanding of false representations. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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This thesis investigates whether children's understanding of both mental and non-mental representations can be accounted for by the same underlying competence in representational understanding. This research question stems from a long-standing dispute between domain-specificity and domain-generality in understanding mental representations. In Chapter 1,1 highlight the importance of using false representations to assess representational understanding, and discuss a fundamental problem inherent in previously devised false non-mental representation tasks in comparison to false mental representation tasks. I also outline the confounding of other cognitive skills such as language and executive function during the assessment of representational understanding. This motivates the subsequent empirical work for this thesis which includes (1) the development of novel measures for assessing children's understanding of non-mental representations and (2) the investigation of the equivalence between children's understanding of mental and non-mental representations. Evidence for this equivalence was shown by a transfer of training between a new false non-mental representation task and an existing false mental representation task presented in Chapter 2. With the use of another novel false non- mental representation task which minimises and eliminates the confounding factors of language and cognitive inhibition, the two experiments in Chapter 3 further indicated that the equivalence between false non-mental and false mental representation tasks could not be explained by these confounding factors. Chapter 4 extended the research from typical to atypical development, namely Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as individuals with ASD are known to be specifically impaired in processing social and mental information. Intriguingly, the findings in Chapter 3 were shown to be generalised to children with ASD. Finally, the consistent findings of the five experiments reported in this thesis are discussed in relation to the theoretical accounts and neurological basis of typical and atypical cognitive development.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
ISBN: 9781303195969
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:29

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