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Dev Sci. 2006 Nov;9(6):590-6.

Young children's understanding of multiple object identity: appearance, pretense and function.

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Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Evidence from theory-of-mind tasks suggests that young children have substantial difficulty thinking about multiple object identity and multiple versions of reality. On the other hand, evidence from children's understanding of pretense indicates that children have little trouble understanding dual object identity and counterfactual scenarios that are involved in pretend play. Two studies reported here show that this competence is not limited to pretend play. Three-year-olds also understand the dual identity involved in unusual functional use (X is being used as Y), even though they have difficulty understanding deceptive appearance (X looks like Y). We suggest that children are able to distinguish extrinsic object properties from intrinsic ones (function vs. category-membership) better than they can distinguish superficial object properties from deep ones (appearance vs. category-membership).

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