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What is and what never should have been: Children's causal and counterfactual judgments about the same events

Nyhout, A., Ganea, P.A. (2020) What is and what never should have been: Children's causal and counterfactual judgments about the same events. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 192 . ISSN 0022-0965. (doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2019.104773) (KAR id:81932)

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Substantial research with adults has characterized the contents of individuals' counterfactual thoughts. In contrast, little is known about the types of events children invoke in their counterfactual thoughts and how they compare with their causal ascriptions. In the current study, we asked children open-ended counterfactual and causal questions about events in which a character's action enabled a force of nature to cause a minor mishap. Children aged 3.5-8 years (N = 160) tended to invoke characters' actions in their counterfactual judgments to explain how an event could have been prevented (e.g., "She should have closed the window") and tended to invoke forces of nature in their causal judgments (e.g., "The rain got it wet"). Younger children were also significantly more likely than older children to invoke forces of nature in their counterfactuals (e.g., "It shouldn't have rained"). These results indicate that, similar to reasoning patterns found in adults, children tend to focus on controllable enabling conditions when reasoning counterfactually, but the results also point to some developmental differences. The developmental similarities suggest that counterfactual reasoning may serve a similar function from middle childhood through adulthood. © 2019 Elsevier Inc.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.jecp.2019.104773
Additional information: Unmapped bibliographic data: C7 - 104773 [EPrints field already has value set] LA - English [Field not mapped to EPrints] J2 - J. Exp. Child Psychol. [Field not mapped to EPrints] C2 - 31952816 [Field not mapped to EPrints] AD - Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6, Canada [Field not mapped to EPrints] M3 - Article [Field not mapped to EPrints] DB - Scopus [Field not mapped to EPrints]
Uncontrolled keywords: Causal reasoning, Cognitive development, Controllability, Counterfactual reasoning, Explanations, Imagination
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Developmental Psychology
Depositing User: Angela Nyhout
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2020 12:54 UTC
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2020 10:55 UTC
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