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    Rights statement: ©American Psychological Association, 2021. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/dev0001012

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Do complement clauses really support false-belief reasoning?: A longitudinal study with English-speaking 2- to 3-year-olds

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Do complement clauses really support false-belief reasoning? A longitudinal study with English-speaking 2- to 3-year-olds. / Boeg Thomsen, Ditte; Theakston, Anna; Kandemirci, Birsu; Brandt, Silke.

In: Developmental Psychology, Vol. 57, No. 8, 31.08.2021, p. 1210-1227.

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@article{d4b092d00c8b4d09879a4bc5489f24d1,
title = "Do complement clauses really support false-belief reasoning?: A longitudinal study with English-speaking 2- to 3-year-olds",
abstract = "To examine whether children{\textquoteright}s acquisition of perspective-marking language supports development in their ability to reason about mental states, we conducted a longitudinal study testing whether proficiency with complement clauses around age three explained variance in false-belief reasoning six months later. 45 English-speaking 2-and-3-year-olds (23 female, Time 1 age range: 33-41 months) from middle-class families in the North-West of England took part in the study, which addresses a series of uncertainties in previous studies: We avoided the confound of using complement clauses in the false-belief tests, assessed complement-clause proficiency with a new comprehensive test designed to capture gradual development, and controlled for individual differences in executive functioning that could affect both linguistic and sociocognitive performance. Further, we aimed to disentangle the influence of two aspects of complement-clause acquisition: proficiency with the perspective-marking syntactic structure itself and understanding of the specific mental verbs used in this syntactic structure. To investigate direction of causality, we also tested whether early false-belief reasoning predicted later complement-clause proficiency. The results provide strong support for the hypothesis that complement-clause acquisition promotes development in false-belief reasoning. Proficiency with the general structure of complement-clause constructions and understanding of the specific mental verbs “think” and “know” in 3rd-person complements at Time 1 both contributed uniquely to predicting false-belief performance at Time 2. However, false-belief performance at Time 1 also contributed uniquely to predicting complement-clause proficiency at Time 2. Together, these results indicate a bidirectional relationship between linguistic and sociocognitive development.",
keywords = "complement clauses, false belief, language acquisition, mental verbs, social cognition",
author = "{Boeg Thomsen}, Ditte and Anna Theakston and Birsu Kandemirci and Silke Brandt",
note = "{\textcopyright}American Psychological Association, 2021. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/dev0001012",
year = "2021",
month = aug,
day = "31",
doi = "10.1037/dev0001012",
language = "English",
volume = "57",
pages = "1210--1227",
journal = "Developmental Psychology",
issn = "0012-1649",
publisher = "American Psychological Association Inc.",
number = "8",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do complement clauses really support false-belief reasoning?

T2 - A longitudinal study with English-speaking 2- to 3-year-olds

AU - Boeg Thomsen, Ditte

AU - Theakston, Anna

AU - Kandemirci, Birsu

AU - Brandt, Silke

N1 - ©American Psychological Association, 2021. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/dev0001012

PY - 2021/8/31

Y1 - 2021/8/31

N2 - To examine whether children’s acquisition of perspective-marking language supports development in their ability to reason about mental states, we conducted a longitudinal study testing whether proficiency with complement clauses around age three explained variance in false-belief reasoning six months later. 45 English-speaking 2-and-3-year-olds (23 female, Time 1 age range: 33-41 months) from middle-class families in the North-West of England took part in the study, which addresses a series of uncertainties in previous studies: We avoided the confound of using complement clauses in the false-belief tests, assessed complement-clause proficiency with a new comprehensive test designed to capture gradual development, and controlled for individual differences in executive functioning that could affect both linguistic and sociocognitive performance. Further, we aimed to disentangle the influence of two aspects of complement-clause acquisition: proficiency with the perspective-marking syntactic structure itself and understanding of the specific mental verbs used in this syntactic structure. To investigate direction of causality, we also tested whether early false-belief reasoning predicted later complement-clause proficiency. The results provide strong support for the hypothesis that complement-clause acquisition promotes development in false-belief reasoning. Proficiency with the general structure of complement-clause constructions and understanding of the specific mental verbs “think” and “know” in 3rd-person complements at Time 1 both contributed uniquely to predicting false-belief performance at Time 2. However, false-belief performance at Time 1 also contributed uniquely to predicting complement-clause proficiency at Time 2. Together, these results indicate a bidirectional relationship between linguistic and sociocognitive development.

AB - To examine whether children’s acquisition of perspective-marking language supports development in their ability to reason about mental states, we conducted a longitudinal study testing whether proficiency with complement clauses around age three explained variance in false-belief reasoning six months later. 45 English-speaking 2-and-3-year-olds (23 female, Time 1 age range: 33-41 months) from middle-class families in the North-West of England took part in the study, which addresses a series of uncertainties in previous studies: We avoided the confound of using complement clauses in the false-belief tests, assessed complement-clause proficiency with a new comprehensive test designed to capture gradual development, and controlled for individual differences in executive functioning that could affect both linguistic and sociocognitive performance. Further, we aimed to disentangle the influence of two aspects of complement-clause acquisition: proficiency with the perspective-marking syntactic structure itself and understanding of the specific mental verbs used in this syntactic structure. To investigate direction of causality, we also tested whether early false-belief reasoning predicted later complement-clause proficiency. The results provide strong support for the hypothesis that complement-clause acquisition promotes development in false-belief reasoning. Proficiency with the general structure of complement-clause constructions and understanding of the specific mental verbs “think” and “know” in 3rd-person complements at Time 1 both contributed uniquely to predicting false-belief performance at Time 2. However, false-belief performance at Time 1 also contributed uniquely to predicting complement-clause proficiency at Time 2. Together, these results indicate a bidirectional relationship between linguistic and sociocognitive development.

KW - complement clauses

KW - false belief

KW - language acquisition

KW - mental verbs

KW - social cognition

U2 - 10.1037/dev0001012

DO - 10.1037/dev0001012

M3 - Journal article

VL - 57

SP - 1210

EP - 1227

JO - Developmental Psychology

JF - Developmental Psychology

SN - 0012-1649

IS - 8

ER -