The contribution of intentionality understanding to symbolic development was examined. Actors added colored dots to a map, displaying either symbolic or aesthetic intentions. In Study 1, most children (5-6 years) understood actors' intentions, but when asked which graphic would help find hidden objects, most selected the incorrect (aesthetic) one whose dot color matched referent color. On a similar task in Study 2, 5- and 6-year-olds systematically picked incorrectly, 9- and 10-year-olds picked correctly, and 7- and 8-year-olds showed mixed performance. When referent color matched neither symbolic nor aesthetic dot colors, children performed better overall, but only the oldest children universally selected the correct graphic and justified choices with intentionality. Results bear on theory of mind, symbolic understanding, and map understanding.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology