Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Counterfactual reasoning: From childhood to adulthood
Authors: Rafetseder, Eva
Schwitalla, Maria
Perner, Josef
Contact Email:
Keywords: Counterfactual reasoning
Basic conditional reasoning
Executive functioning
Nearest possible world constraint
Issue Date: Mar-2013
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Rafetseder E, Schwitalla M & Perner J (2013) Counterfactual reasoning: From childhood to adulthood, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114 (3), pp. 389-404.
Abstract: The objective of this study was to describe the developmental progression of counterfactual reasoning from childhood to adulthood. In contrast to the traditional view, it was recently reported by Rafetseder and colleagues that even a majority of 6-year-old children do not engage in counterfactual reasoning when asked counterfactual questions (Child Development,2010, Vol. 81, pp. 376–389). By continuing to use the same method, the main result of the current Study 1 was that performance of the 9- to 11-year-olds was comparable to that of the 6-year-olds, whereas the 12- to 14-year-olds approximated adult performance. Study 2, using an intuitively simpler task based on Harris and colleagues (Cognition,1996, Vol. 61, pp. 233–259), resulted in a similar conclusion, specifically that the ability to apply counterfactual reasoning is not fully developed in all children before 12years of age. We conclude that children who failed our tasks seem to lack an understanding of what needs to be changed (events that are causally dependent on the counterfactual assumption) and what needs to be left unchanged and so needs to be kept as it actually happened. Alternative explanations, particularly executive functioning, are discussed in detail.
Type: Journal Article
DOI Link:
Rights: The publisher does not allow this work to be made publicly available in this Repository. Please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study.
Affiliation: Psychology
University of Salzburg
University of Salzburg

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Rafetseder2013.pdf362.53 kBAdobe PDFUnder Embargo until 31/12/2999     Request a copy

Note: If any of the files in this item are currently embargoed, you can request a copy directly from the author by clicking the padlock icon above. However, this facility is dependant on the depositor still being contactable at their original email address.

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.