Evidentiality and second-order social cognition

Arslan, Burcu
In this study, the development of a second-order false belief task is investigated by considering the impact of the acquisition of Turkish evidential markers, namely –DI (direct evidence) and –mIş (inference or hearsay). A neutral version of the tasks served as a control form. 21 kindergarten children (aged 4-5 years), 47 primary school children (aged 6- 12 years) and 10 adults participated in the study. Our results revealed that there is no effect of acquisition of evidentials on false belief understanding. Together with the other studies, there is a facilitative effect of –DI (direct evidence) in understanding of stories/narratives in general rather than false belief understanding for the children at the age of 4 to 6/7. In addition to the second-order false belief tasks (FBT_2), a simple working memory task (WST), a complex working memory task (LST), a perspective taking task (PTT) and a double- embedded relative clause task (REL_2) were used in order to investigate the developmental trend of these tasks and their possible relationship with second-order false belief understanding. Also, to the best of our knowledge this is the first time that a REL_2 task has been devised in a Turkish study. The general developmental trend was found for all tasks. Even if some significant correlations were found for FBT_2 score predicted from other tasks, analyses showed that only the contribution of age was significant. Since all of these domains are not related to second-order false belief reasoning but develop at the same time, it is not incompatible with the serial bottleneck hypothesis. In sum, the findings are matching with the modularity view that ToM is a faculty of the human mind at their own pace that does not share intrinsic content with other faculties such as language and working memory (Leslie et al., 2004). However, it develops together with those other faculties and they may constrain the expression of child‟s false belief understanding.


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For the first time a representative Theory of Mind (ToM) scale (Wellman & Liu, 2004) has been cast into three different linguistic forms in order to show the impact of evidential markers on ToM understanding. With Turkish children, we studied (i) a control form without explicit evidential markers, as conducted by Bayramoğlu & Hohenberger (2007), (ii) a verbal form with –DI (marking factuality in the past ) and (iii) a verbal form with –MIS (marking hearsay in the past). To predict ToM performance of childre...
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Citation Formats
B. Arslan, “Evidentiality and second-order social cognition,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2012.