Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 3720 Walnut Street, Solomon Labs, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, Box 1821, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA
Department of Psychology, Yale University, P.O. Box 208205, New Haven, CT 06520–8205, USA
* Corresponding author, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many parents and some researchers assume that young children are fantastical thinkers. We examined this assumption in the domain of reasoning about fictional stories. We presented 4-year-olds with realistic and fantastical stories and asked them how best to continue these stories: with ordinary events or with events that violate real-world causal laws. Children preferred the ordinary events for both types of stories (Experiment 1, n=42) while a comparison group of adults (n=68) continued stories based on their content. To ensure that children’s responses reflected their intuitions about stories per se, Experiment 2 (n=60) asked 4-year-olds to make the same choice between realistic and fantastical events, but in the context of figuring out an experimenter’s preferences or learning a new word. Here, children did not demonstrate an overall bias for the realistic events. These findings suggest that children are reality-prone in the context of fictional stories.
RosengrenK.HicklingA. K.RosengrenK.JohnsonC. N.HarrisP. L.Metamorphosis and magic: The development of children’s thinking about possible events and plausible mechanismsImagining the impossible2000CambridgeCambridge University Press7598