Counterfactual reasoning : from childhood to adulthood

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2013
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Schwitalla, Maria
Perner, Josef
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Zusammenfassung

The objective of this study was to describe the developmental progression of counterfactual reasoning from childhood to adulthood. In contrast to the traditional view, it was recently reported by Rafetseder and colleagues that even a majority of 6-year-old children do not engage in counterfactual reasoning when asked counterfactual questions (Child Development, 2010, Vol. 81, pp. 376-389). By continuing to use the same method, the main result of the current Study 1 was that performance of the 9- to 11-year-olds was comparable to that of the 6-year-olds, whereas the 12- to 14-year-olds approximated adult performance. Study 2, using an intuitively simpler task based on Harris and colleagues (Cognition, 1996, Vol. 61, pp. 233-259), resulted in a similar conclusion, specifically that the ability to apply counterfactual reasoning is not fully developed in all children before 12 years of age. We conclude that children who failed our tasks seem to lack an understanding of what needs to be changed (events that are causally dependent on the counterfactual assumption) and what needs to be left unchanged and so needs to be kept as it actually happened. Alternative explanations, particularly executive functioning, are discussed in detail.

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150 Psychologie
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counterfactual reasoning, basic conditional reasoning, executive functioning, childhood, adulthood, nearest possible world constraint
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ISO 690RAFETSEDER, Eva, Maria SCHWITALLA, Josef PERNER, 2013. Counterfactual reasoning : from childhood to adulthood. In: Journal of experimental child psychology. Elsevier. 2013, 114(3), pp. 389-404. ISSN 0022-0965. eISSN 1096-0457. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.10.010
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@article{Rafetseder2013-03Count-52725,
  year={2013},
  doi={10.1016/j.jecp.2012.10.010},
  title={Counterfactual reasoning : from childhood to adulthood},
  number={3},
  volume={114},
  issn={0022-0965},
  journal={Journal of experimental child psychology},
  pages={389--404},
  author={Rafetseder, Eva and Schwitalla, Maria and Perner, Josef}
}
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