A new paper and pencil task reveals adult false belief reasoning bias and slowed response time

P. L. Cohurn, D. M. Bernstein, S.M. Begeer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Theory of mind (ToM) is the ability to take other people's perspective by inferring their mental state. Most 6-year olds pass the change-of-location false belief task that is commonly used to assess ToM. However, the change-of-location task is not suitable for individuals over 5 years of age, due to its discrete response options. In two experiments, we used a paper and pencil version of a modified change-of-location task (the Real Object Sandbox task) to assess false belief reasoning continuously rather than discretely in adults. Participants heard nine change-of-location scenarios and answered a critical question after each. The memory control questions only required the participant to remember the object's original location, whereas the false belief questions required participants to take the perspective of the protagonist. Participants were more accurate on memory trials than trials requiring perspective taking, and performance on paper and pencil trials correlated with corresponding trials on the Real Object Sandbox task. The Paper and Pencil Sandbox task is a convenient continuous measure of ToM that could be administered to a wide range of age groups. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-749
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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