Knowledge and belief understanding among Iranian and Australian preschool children

Ameneh Shahaeian, Mark Nielsen, Candida C. Peterson, Maedeh Aboutalebi, Virginia Slaughter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    For more than three decades, considerable research effort has been expended in documenting children's development of a theory of mind (ToM), or the recognition that behavior is determined by mental states. Studies comparing ToM development in children from Western and non-Western countries have shown differences in patterns of development in various ToM tasks. Specifically, Iranian children are slower than their Australian counterparts to acknowledge that people have diverse beliefs, but at the same time they have relatively advanced understanding of how people acquire new knowledge. In the current study, our aim was to further investigate this cross-cultural pattern by evaluating 3- and 4-year-old Australian and Iranian children's belief and knowledge understanding across a range of distinct tasks designed to reflect culturally familiar situations. Results confirmed that the Iranian children were faster than the Australians in mastering tasks assessing the understanding of how and when knowledge is acquired. Iranian children, however, lag behind in passing diverse belief tasks. Scores in false belief tasks were comparable across both countries. These findings are discussed with reference to socio-cultural differences across the two countries.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1643-1654
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


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