Kate in Frontiers on desire reports
Three-Year-Olds' Understanding of Desire Reports Is Robust to Conflict, concludes Kaitlyn Harrigan in a paper with Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz now out in Frontiers in Psychology. The paper presents two experiments with 3-year-olds, exploring their interpretation of sentences about desires, and their ability to represent desires whose contents conflict with the current state of affairs. Both find that 3-year-olds successfully interpret sentences with the verb "want", and suggest that their ability to represent desires is adult-like at this age. This casts some doubt on the view that children's inability to represent the contents of mental states that conflict with reality are what causes their persistent difficulty with counter-actual uses of belief verbs, such as "think".