Choosing between two objects reduces 3-year-olds errors on a reverse-contingency test of executive function

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In the present experiment, we used a reversed-contingency paradigm (the windows task: [Russell, J., Mauthner, N., Sharpe, S., & Tidswell, T. (1991). The windows task as a measure of strategic deception in preschoolers and autistic subjects. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 331-349]) to explore the effect of alterations in the task array on 3-year-old children's strategic reasoning. Children were offered a choice between either a desirable object and an undesirable object, or between a desirable object and an empty location. There was significantly better performance on the two-object version of the task. This difference was evident even on subsequent trials when the second object was removed and the empty location reintroduced. This suggests that presenting children with a choice between two objects helps them to formulate a strategy, rather than to execute a previously determined response. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007


  • strategic reasoning, metacognition, inhibition, theory of mind, executive function