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Child Development Research
Volume 2016, Article ID 5270924, 10 pages
Research Article

Appearances Are Deceiving: Observing the World as It Looks and How It Really Is—Theory of Mind Performances Investigated in 3-, 4-, and 5-Year-Old Children

Department of Education and Psychology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

Received 6 July 2016; Revised 24 September 2016; Accepted 7 November 2016

Academic Editor: Randal X. Moldrich

Copyright © 2016 Lucia Bigozzi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Appearance-reality (AR) distinction understanding in preschoolers is worth of further consideration. This also goes for its relationship with false-belief (FB) understanding. This study helped fill these gaps by assessing 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children’s performances on an appearance-reality distinction task and by investigating relationships with unexpected location, deceptive content, and deception comprehension task performances. 91 preschoolers participated in this study divided into 3 groups: (1) 37 children, M-age 3.4 years; (2) 23 children, M-age 4.5 years; (3) 31 children, M-age 5.4 years. A developmental trend was found where appearance-reality distinction understanding was significantly influenced by age. If wrong answers were particularly high by 3-year-old children, they greatly decreased by 4- and 5-year-old children. 3-year-old children also tended to fail in FB tasks; instead 4- and 5-year-old children performed AR tasks better than FB tasks. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.