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REASONING WITH SUBJUNCTIVE (COUNTERFACTUAL) AND INDICATIVE CONDITIONALS A comparison of children, adolescents and adults Eva Rafetseder & Josef Perner

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DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY Counterfactual Reasoning [CFR] is related to Understanding of Causation Understanding of False Belief Feeling of Regret and Relief Understanding of Counterfactual and Actual Worlds as Alternative Possibilities at a Certain Time in the Past Executive Functions such as Inhibitory Control and Working Memory Amsel et al. (2003), Beck et al. (2006), Harris et al. (1996), Riggs et al. (1998),…

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DEVELOPMENTAL STEPS 3½ years: German & Nichols (2003, short chain) Harris, German, and Mills (1996) 4½ years: Beck, Robinson, Carroll, and Apperly (2006, standard counterfactuals) German & Nichols (2003, long chain) Riggs, Peterson, Robinson, and Mitchell (1998) 6 years: Amsel et al. (2003) Beck, and Crilly (2009) Beck, Robinson, Carroll, and Apperly (2006, open counterfactuals) Guttentag & Ferrell (2004) Pilz (2005) Different Reasoning Strategies?

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TYPICAL CFR-TEST Story: Carol comes home and she doesnt take her shoes off. She comes inside and makes the floor all dirty with her shoes. Test: Subjunctive (counterfactual) question: If Carol had taken her shoes off, would the floor be dirty or clean? younger children tend to answer with state of the world floor would be dirty (reality error) understand that consequent differs from actual state of the world Children who do not make the reality error are able to reason counterfactually! Harris et al. (1996)

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NEEDED DISTINCTION Reasoning asked for by experimenter Subjunctive question about the past (present) asks for counterfactual reasoning Reasoning brought to bear by children What kind of reasoning do children bring to bear when they are asked a subjunctive question about the past (present)? Perner et al. (2008)

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REASONING PROCESS Basic Conditional Reasoning IF (whenever) someone walks with dirty shoes on a floor THEN the floor is (tends to be) dirty. Factual Reasoning Conditional Premise: IF (whenever) someone walks with dirty shoes on a floor THEN the floor is (tends to be) dirty. Factual Premise: Carol walks with dirty shoes on this floor. Conclusion:This floor is dirty.

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REASONING PROCESS Hypothetical Reasoning Conditional Premise: IF (whenever) someone walks with dirty shoes on a floor THEN the floor is (tends to be) dirty. Hypothetical Premise: IF Carol walks with dirty shoes on this floor. Conclusion:THEN this floor is dirty. Future Hypothetical Reasoning Conditional Premise: IF (whenever) someone walks with dirty shoes on a floor THEN the floor is (tends to be) dirty. Factual Premise:Carols brother walks with clean socks on this floor. Hypothetical Premise: IF now Carol walks with dirty shoes on this floor. Conclusion:THEN this floor will be dirty.

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REASONING PROCESS Counterfactual Reasoning Conditional Premise: IF (whenever) someone walks with dirty shoes on a floor THEN the floor is (tends to be) dirty. Factual Premise:Carol walks with her dirty shoes on this floor. Hypothetical Premise: IF Carol had taken her shoes off. Conclusion:THEN this floor would be clean. Nearest Possible World by David Lewis Nearest: counterfactual scenario needs to be maximally similar to the real scenario Possible: the new scenario must stay logically coherent

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REASONING PROCESS Counterfactual Reasoning Conditional Premise: IF (whenever) someone walks with dirty shoes on a floor THEN the floor is (tends to be) dirty. Factual Premise:Carol walks with her dirty shoes on this floor. Hypothetical Premise: IF Carol had taken her shoes off. Conclusion:THEN this floor would be clean. Hypothetical Reasoning Conditional Premise: IF (whenever) someone takes dirty shoes off THEN the floor is (tends to be) clean. Hypothetical Premise: IF Carol takes her shoes off. Conclusion:THEN this floor is clean. Perner et al. (2009)

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DEVELOPMENTAL CLAIM Younger children might give correct answers to subjunctive (counterfactual) questions by using hypothetical reasoning. They might treat the subjunctive (If Carol had taken her shoes off...) like an indicative (If Carol takes her shoes off...) They reason with plausible assumptions (what ever comes to mind): (…then floors tend to stay clean) We need to find scenarios in which hypothetical reasoning receives a different answer than counterfactual reasoning.

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POSSIBLE DISTINCTION Counterfactual Reasoning Conditional Premise: IF (whenever) someone walks with dirty shoes on a floor THEN the floor is (tends to be) dirty. Factual Premise:Carol and her brother walk with her dirty shoes on this floor. Hypothetical Premise: IF Carol had taken her shoes off. Conclusion:THEN this floor would be dirty. Hypothetical Reasoning Conditional Premise: IF (whenever) someone takes dirty shoes off THEN the floor is (tends to be) clean. Factual Premise:Carol and her brother walk with her dirty shoes on this floor. Hypothetical Premise: IF Carol takes her shoes off. Conclusion:THEN this floor is clean.

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TASK mother puts sweets bottom shelf top shelfboys room girls room boy comes girl comes OR too short 1 st Transformation 2 nd Transformation Pilz (2005)

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Today mother puts sweets into the top box. Memory 1: Where are the sweets now? Future Hypothetical Event What will happen with the sweets, when the boy comes looking for sweets? Where will the sweets be? [boy´s room] Look, the boy comes along looking for sweets. He finds them in the top box and takes them to his room! Memory 2: Where are the sweets now? Counterfactual Event But what, if not the boy but the small girl had come along looking for sweets. Where would the sweets be? [top shelf] too short Pilz (2005) TASK

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CONDITIONS

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PARTICIPANTS 33 children 18 boys and 15 girls 2;11 – 5;9 (years; months) Mean age = 4;4 S.D. = 9,4 months

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RESULTS

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FOLLOW UP EXPERIMENT elimination of asymmetry controlling for memory by making the 1st transformation counterfactually But what, if sweets had not been on the bottom but on the top shelf?

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PARTICIPANTS 32 children 19 boys and 13 girls 5;0 – 6;5 (years; months) Mean age = 5;1 S.D. = 4 months 16 adults 7 men and 9 women 14;7 – 75;10 (years; months) Mean age = 34;6 S.D. = 16;3 33 children 18 boys and 15 girls 2;11 – 5;9 (years; months) Mean age = 4;4 S.D. = 9,4 months 20 adolescents 12 boys and 8 girls 9;0 – 14;5 (years; months) Mean age = 12;1 S.D. = 25 months

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RESULTS

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DISCUSSION Most of the research concludes that counterfactual reasoning emerges between 3 and 5 years, while a few studiesmostly working with counterfactual emotionspoint to at the later age of 6 years or older. Our guiding hypothesis is that the studies with the younger children document when children can engage in hypothetical reasoning when premises and conclusions contrast with reality. While the studies with older children may get at children's ability to obey Lewis' "nearest possible world" criterion by being able to systematically relating the counterfactual scenario to the real scenario.

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DISCUSSION Why is future hypothetical reasoning easier? The counterfactual assumption contradicts with the corresponding fact, while in future hypothetical reasoning the corresponding fact in the future is not (yet) known. Counterfactual reasoning requires that two different models of the world have to stay simultaneously active. The real sequence of events that is being counterfactually altered has to be kept active

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SUMMARY 3years: reality bias: answering with the real state of the world 3½ - 4½ years: no reality bias because of hypothetical reasoning 6 years: first signs of counterfactual reasoning 13 years: adult like pattern of counterfactual reasoning

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THANK YOU!

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