Introducing ToMcat: A videotaped, open-access violation-of-expectation study for measuring early false-belief understanding in infants and toddlers

Authors: Yuile, A.R., Baillargeon, R., Fisher, C., & Hyde, D.C.
Poster presented at: Cognitive Development Society (CDS) biennial meeting
Year: 2019

Investigators have long sought to determine at what age children first show false-belief understanding (FBU), which is widely perceived to be an important facet of representational ToM. Initial studies using explicit tasks suggested that children are not capable of FBU until about 4 years of age (Baron-Cohen et al., 1985; Gopnik & Astington, 1988; Perner et al., 1987; Wimmer & Perner, 1983). Subsequent investigations using implicit tasks suggested that some capacity for FBU is already present in infancy (for a review, Scott & Baillargeon, 2017).

However, non- or partial- replications of implicit FBU findings have led a number of researchers to question the reliability and validity of implicit measures of FBU (Kulke et al., 2018; Low & Edwards, 2018; Powell et al., 2018; Rakoczy, 2012).

Goals of ToMcat project:

  1. Develop a videotaped violation-of expectation (VOE) task that measures implicit FBU in infants and toddlers Here we describe this new task and report the results of our first experiment.
  2. Assess the reliability and validity of our task by running a preregistered replication of our false-belief condition as well as a preregistered true-belief condition
  3. Conduct a multi-lab replication