Executive function and children's understanding of false belief: How specific is the relation?

Ulrich Müller, Philip David Zelazo, Sarah Imrisek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The present study examined developmental relations among understanding false belief, understanding "false" photographs, performance on the Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS), and performance on a picture-sentence verification task in 69 3-5-year-old children. Results showed that performance on the DCCS predicted performance on false belief questions even after controlling for children's age and verbal ability. However, neither performance on the picture-sentence verification task, nor performance on the "false" photograph task predicted false belief understanding. Implications of these findings are discussed in the context of suggestions that understanding false belief reflects a general understanding of representation, propositional negation, and the ability to use higher order rules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-189
Number of pages17
JournalCognitive Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada to P.D. Zelazo.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • False belief
  • Performance
  • Photograph

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