, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 19-29
Date: 27 Sep 2008

Turning frogs into princes: can children make inferences from fairy tales?

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Abstract

Background This study investigates children’s ability to generate inferences from narratives containing counterfactual information. Methods 39 typically developing readers (mean age 10; 05) completed an on-line task in which they were asked to read short passages, followed by sentences which they had to judge as true or false. The sentences pertained to either a causal inference or a static inference that could have been made during the reading of the passage. The passages and corresponding sentences were either true in terms of real world knowledge, or were presented as fairy tales. Results Results indicated that overall children responded faster and more accurately to sentences related to causal inferences than to static inferences. Responses to both types of inferences were slower in the ‘fairy story’ condition. Conclusions Children’s pattern of inference generation appears to be the same irrespective of the factual basis of the passage. However, responses to sentences based on inferences in the preceding passage are slower in fairy stories.