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Belief-Desire Reasoning among Baka Children: Evidence for a Universal Conception of Mind

Jeremy Avis and Paul L. Harris
Child Development
Vol. 62, No. 3 (Jun., 1991), pp. 460-467
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131123
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131123
Page Count: 8
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Belief-Desire Reasoning among Baka Children: Evidence for a Universal Conception of Mind
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Abstract

Children of the Baka, a group of pygmies living in the rain forests of southeast Cameroon, were tested for their conception of mind. Specifically, they were invited to move a desirable food from its container to a hiding place in the absence of the adult preparing the food and then predict the likely reactions of the adult on his return. A majority of older children (n = 17; mean age 5 years) correctly predicted that the adult would approach the original but now empty container, would feel happy rather than sad before lifting its cover, and sad rather than happy after discovering the disappearance of the food. A minority of younger children (n = 17; mean age 3 1/2 years) were also systematically correct for all 3 predictions. The results provide support for the claim that belief-desire reasoning is universally acquired in childhood.

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