The relations among perceived similarity, familiarity, and beliefs about reality
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The first goal of this study is to test the prediction that children who perceive similarity between a novel physical event and the real world will be more likely to express belief in the reality of a novel character involved in the event than children who do not perceive such similarity. The second goal is to test the effects of familiarity on similarity judgements, reality status beliefs, and their association. In this study, children ages 4 and 6 years were visited 5 times and were repeatedly told about a novel character performing either a highly similar, moderately dissimilar, or a highly dissimilar physical event. Their similarity judgements and reality status judgements were solicited on days 1 and 5. Results revealed high rates of association between similarity and reality status beliefs for the highly similar and moderately dissimilar events but low levels of association for the highly dissimilar event on day 1. With repeated exposure, children’s positive similarity judgements increased for the highly dissimilar event leading to higher rates of association.