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Where Is the Real Cheese? Young Children's Ability to Discriminate between Real and Pretend Acts

Lili Ma and Angeline S. Lillard
Child Development
Vol. 77, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 2006), pp. 1762-1777
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4139273
Page Count: 16
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Where Is the Real Cheese? Young Children's Ability to Discriminate between Real and Pretend Acts
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Abstract

This study examined 2- to 3-year-olds' ability to make a pretend - real distinction in the absence of content cues. Children watched two actors side by side. One was really eating, and the other was pretending to eat, but in neither case was information about content available. Following the displays, children were asked to retrieve the real food (Experiment 1) or point to the container with the real food (Experiments 2 and 3). 3- and 2.5-year-olds distinguished between the real and pretend acts based on behavioral cues alone. Two-year-olds chose the containers at random, but their spontaneous reactions suggested that they discriminated the real acts from pretense to some degree. Possible accounts for the discrepancy between the different behavioral measures are discussed.

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