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their understanding of prior expectations and mental states as opposed to desirability when assessing the surprising nature of a situation.

In a similarly structured study, Ruffman and Keenan (1996) attempted to overcome a potential drawback of MacLaren and Olson's (1993) study. Ruffman and Keenan (1996) claimed that MacLaren and Olson (1993) pitted desire against expectation, and thus subjects fell back upon desire-based reason- ing. Thus, Ruffman and Keenan (1996) designed an experiment that eliminated this distraction. Results indicated a lag in children's ability to predict surprise relative to belief.

The aim of the present study is to further explore the controversial findings of children's development of the understanding of belief-based emotions through the concept of strategic planning. Hala and Chandler (1996) have suggested that the role of strategically planned deception in false belief tasks simplifies the tasks for 3-year-olds, and these tasks are successfully solved more often. In their studies they found that it was not necessary for the child to physically carry out the plan as long as the child was directly involved in the plan's formulation and thus in personally manipulating another person's mental state. The following procedures ask whether a similar strategically planned deception can simpli- fy belief-based emotion questions for 4 and 5-year- olds and thus facilitate an understanding of belief- based surprise.

The following study is a consolidated revi- sion of a recently completed and unpublished proce- dure (Pasquale, 2001) in which 4-year-olds and 5- year-olds performed equally well on unhappy and surprise questions, data that directly contradicts the findings of Hadwin and Perner (1991), MacLaren and Olson (1993), and Ruffman and Keenan (1996). In Pasquale's (2001) study, subjects were divided in either an Unhappy or an Unhappy Surprised condi- tion, and test stories matched the variables of false- belief, true-belief, planning, and non-planning in an effort to determine the instrumentality of a child's strategic planning. As no main effects of condition existed, the conditions were eliminated for purposes of the present procedure, as were the true belief sto- ries. Subjects in the previous study were additional- ly read neutral emotion stories, on which they per- formed so flawlessly that these stories were elimi- nated from the current protocol. The finding that strategic planning had no effect on emotion-question Perspectives in Psychology

performance in either of Pasquale's conditions was intriguing, and thus the following study seeks to replicate these results and to further explore the rea- sons behind 4 and 5-year-olds passing these particu- lar tasks but failing similar others.


Participants Participants included thirty 4-year-old and 5- year-old children, 10 boys and 20 girls (range = 3.64

  • -

    5.24; M = 4.64). The data of one girl was exclud-

ed in analysis because she exceeded the age limit of five years. The data of one boy was excluded from analysis because of confirmed developmental delays. All children were drawn from preschools and day care centers in a major U.S. city and its sub- urbs. Two were African American, five were Asian American, and twenty-three were Caucasian. Materials

All stories involved scenarios that took place in Maisy's Pop-Up Playhouse, a colorful manipula- tive with three rooms (a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen) and movable parts (such as doors and cabi- nets that opened). Story characters included a 4.5- inch stand-up Maisy the Mouse (a popular children's literature and television character), and two 6-inch stand-up paper dolls (a boy named Tommy and a girl named Georgia). All story characters were faceless so as to eliminate the association of any emotion to them. The objects referred to in the procedural sto- ries included 1-inch paper cutouts of an orange juice carton, a cake, a sailboat bath toy, and a teddy bear. Prototypical unhappy, surprised, and neutral emotion faces were used to assess the child's understanding of how the characters were feeling. These faces were circular, 2.5 inches in diameter, and shown to be comprehensible by children in the appropriate age group.


Prior to beginning the experiment, each child was allowed approximately two minutes to inde- pendently explore Maisy's Playhouse. This permit- ted the child to become acquainted with the materi- als and pilot studies indicated that it reduced the child's distractibility during the actual experiment. The experimenter then introduced each child to the

Spring 2003


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