Children's understanding of the normativity of belief
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The variety of accounts of theory of mind development, arising from distinct theoretical perspectives, have focused on children’s causal-explanatory views on the mind and have not developed accounts of children’s normative judgments of the mental domain. This account proposes a new way of thinking about the findings of various domains in this field and gives particular attention to prior work on false belief, origins or sources of belief and the distinctions between fantastical and epistemic states. Children's understanding of epistemic justification and their appreciation of the normative significance of others' reasons for belief was investigated in 2 experiments. Three-, 4- and 5-year-olds were presented with the opportunity to direct praise, criticism and advice to others who have different kinds of evidence for what they believe. Experiment 1 determined that children of all age groups appropriately judged looking, reliable testimony and inductive inference as better reasons for belief than pretense, guessing and desiring, however, 3-year-olds did not perform as well as 4- and 5-year-olds. In Experiment 2, children of all age groups consistently praised justified true believers and had difficulty evaluating justified false, unjustified true and unjustified false believers.