How do 3-4 year olds think about hide and seek?

Have you played hide and seek with a small child and found them in seconds as they sit in the middle of the room with their eyes covered, convinced that you can’t see them? In this episode, I talk with Asst Professor Henrike Moll, in the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California in the USA. In this conversation, we focus on Henrike’s work looking at the social-cognitive development of pre-schoolers and how they appear to apply a principle of bidirectional social interaction, or “I can’t see you, unless you can see me”, and vice versa.

Here is the link to the paper we talk about in this week’s show:

Here is the abstract for some context:

A curious phenomenon in early social-cognitive development has been identified: Preschoolers deny that they can see others who cannot also see them (Russell, Gee, & Bullard, 2012). The exclusive focus on vision has suggested that this effect is limited to gaze, but children’s negations might reflect a broader phenomenon that extends to vocal communication. In Experiment 1 (N = 24), 3- to 4-year-olds were asked if they could see an agent whose eyes were covered, hearan agent whose ears were covered, and speak to an agent whose mouth was covered. In all cases, negative responses were more frequent than in a control condition in which the facial area was unoccluded. Experiment 2 (N = 24) provided evidence that children’s negations did not result from a misunderstanding of the questions. The findings suggest that young children apply a principle of reciprocal relatedness that is not limited to gaze.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *