To address the question of whether young children are differentially sensitive to referential opacity, an advanced Theory of Mind skill, we assessed 4-, 6-, and 8-year-olds on three types of opaque contexts: epistemic, quotational, and intentional. Children's performance improved as a function of age and varied significantly by opacity type. Performance was best for epistemic opacity (using the verb "know") and poorest for intentional opacity (using "mean to"), with quotational opacity (using "said") falling in-between. Importantly, the current results suggest that children's sensitivity to referential opacity is not an all-or-nothing competence but rather one that varies across the contexts examined. Possible reasons for this variability are discussed.

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Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Children's Representational Development Lab

Kamawar, D, & Olson, D.R. (David R.). (2011). Thinking about representations: The case of opaque contexts. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108(4), 734–746. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2010.10.005