Children's difficulties handling dual identity

Ian Apperly, Elizabeth Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Thirty-nine 6-year-old children participated in a longitudinal study using tasks that required handling of dual identity. Pre- and posttest sessions employed tasks involving a protagonist who was partially informed about an object or person; for example, he knew an item as a ball but not as a present. Children who judged correctly that the protagonist did not know the ball was a present (thereby demonstrating some understanding of the consequences of limited information access), often judged incorrectly (1) that he knew that there was a present in the box, and (2) that he would search as if fully informed. Intervening sessions added contextual support and tried to clarify the experimenter's communicative intentions in a range of ways. Despite signs of general improvement, the distinctive pattern of errors persisted in every case. These findings go beyond previous studies of children's handling of limited information access, and are hard to accommodate within existing accounts of developing understanding of the mind.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-397
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2001


  • context effects
  • partial knowledge
  • dual identity
  • theory of mind
  • interpretation
  • explaining action
  • intensionality


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