Tots separate fact, fiction early

November 17, 2006

Children may be savvier at a younger age when separating fact from fiction than their parents think, a University of Texas study said.

Children typically learn to separate what's real from what's pretend between the ages of 3 year and 5 years, the research said.

"These studies provide new insight into the development of children's ability to make the fantasy-reality distinction," Jacqueline Woolley, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a news release.

Woolley's team studied children ages 3 to 6 years by reading stories that were either imaginary or fact-based, then asking about whether words represented something real or something pretend.

As expected, younger subjects were the most likely to think all words were real, while older ones could distinguish real from fiction, researchers said.

But researchers learned something else -- differentiating between real and fantasy may be contextual as well as age-related. After hearing a factual story, the children expected more "real" words, not a mix of facts and fantasy, researchers said. After hearing imaginative stories, the children may have thought that some words in the word test were from an imaginary place.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Brain's self-regulation in teens at risk for obesity

Related Stories

Brain's self-regulation in teens at risk for obesity

August 22, 2017
In a small study that scanned the brains of teenagers while exposing them to tempting "food cues," researchers report that reduced activity in the brain's "self-regulation" system may be an important early predictor of adult ...

Postpartum depression can affect dads – hormones may be to blame

August 25, 2017
Postpartum depression has become more visible as celebrity moms including Brooke Shields, Drew Barrymore and Chrissy Teigen have publicly shared their struggles with feeling sad and hopeless after birth. But when a father ...

'Stranger danger' in the online and real word

July 31, 2017
The term "stranger danger" was coined as a warning to children: beware the unknown adult, proceed with caution and be very careful what personal information you reveal. The question is, do adults take their own advice? Perhaps ...

Sleep makes it possible for babies to associate words with content—and not with noise

August 8, 2017
While babies sleep, astonishing processes take place in their brains. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig observed that babies succeed in associating a meaning ...

Watching children learn how to lie

August 4, 2017
For the liar, telling a lie has obvious costs. Keeping track of the lies one tells and trying to maintain the plausibility of a fictional narrative as real-world events intrude is mentally taxing. The fear of getting caught ...

How rhyming helps reading

July 26, 2017
When, in the nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill go up a hill, they're teaching children more than how to fetch a pail of water. They're also improving their reading skills.

Recommended for you

How the shape and size of your face relates to your sexuality

September 19, 2017
Men and women with shorter, wider faces tend to be more sexually motivated and to have a stronger sex drive than those with faces of other dimensions. These are the findings from a study led by Steven Arnocky of Nipissing ...

Behavioral therapy increases connectivity in brains of people with OCD

September 19, 2017
UCLA researchers report that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, when treated with a special form of talk therapy, demonstrate distinct changes in their brains as well as improvement in their symptoms.

Cognitive scientists find that people can more easily communicate warmer colors than cool ones

September 18, 2017
The human eye can perceive millions of different colors, but the number of categories human languages use to group those colors is much smaller. Some languages use as few as three color categories (words corresponding to ...

Why bad sleep doesn't always lead to depression

September 18, 2017
Poor sleep is both a risk factor, and a common symptom, of depression. But not everyone who tosses and turns at night becomes depressed.

Happiness is not determined by childhood biomarkers

September 18, 2017
Happiness is not determined by childhood biological markers such as height or body fat, according to a team of European researchers involving UCL.

People with schizophrenia have threefold risk of dying

September 18, 2017
People with schizophrenia are three times more likely to die, and die younger, than the general population, indicating a need for solutions to narrow this gap, according to research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.