Relating developments in children's counterfactual thinking and executive functions

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The performance of 93 children aged 3 and 4 years on a battery of different counterfactual tasks was assessed. Three measures: short causal chains, location change counterfactual conditionals, and false syllogisms-but not a fourth, long causal chains-were correlated, even after controlling for age and receptive vocabulary. Children's performance on our counterfactual thinking measure was predicted by receptive vocabulary ability and inhibitory control. The role that domain general executive functions may play in 3- to 4-year olds' counterfactual thinking development is discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-354
Number of pages18
JournalThinking & Reasoning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2009


  • Counterfactual thinking, Working memory, Imagination, Reasoning, Inhibition