The ‚false‘ false belief task: A replication and reanalysis of Call and Tomasello’s (1999) nonverbal false belief task

Schröder, L. M. (Selected presenter), Sarah Janika Leikard (Selected presenter)

Activity: Talk or presentationPoster presentationscience to science / art to art


We investigated a challenge arising from Call and Tomasello’s (1999) non-verbal false belief (FB) test: An agent baits one of two identical looking boxes. one cannot see which. In the agent’s ab-sence the boxes are switched. The agent returns and marks one of the boxes. Where is the bait? Surprisingly, they reported that children solve their task as early as they master the traditional FB task. Passing the non-verbal FB task requires (1) an understanding of disjunction (box1 oR box2), (2) being able to represent that the agent knows something that oneself only has partial knowledge of, and (3) understanding that the agent mistakenly thinks that box1 (the baited box) is box2. only older children who are capable of second-order belief ascription should be able to do so (Perner et al. 2015). In two experiments (N total = 105) we replicated Call and Tomasello’s non-verbal FB task and tested whether children were choosing the correct box based on a simple heuristic instead of belief reasoning by adding two true belief tasks. We could demonstrate that the majority of 3- to 6- year-olds simply guessed where the reward might be. Furthermore, many of the children who answered all 4 trials correctly seem to use the simple strategy that the agent always points to the box on the wrong side, which they could learn from several control trials used beforehand. Hence there is no sign that the Call-Tomasello non-verbal FB test is mastered at the same age as the standard test.
Period1 Aug 2021
Event title11th Annual Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development 2021 (BCCCD21)
Event typeOnline-Conference
LocationVirtual, Unknown
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Fields of Science and Technology Classification 2012

  • 501 Psychology