The data obtained in two investigations (one a longitudinal/cross-sectional naturalistic study, the other a quasi-experimental study) demonstrate that preschool age children have the capacity for hypothetical reference. However, the data also indicate that this capacity for hypothetical reference operates within certain constraints, particularly early in the preschool years. Specifically, future hypothetical reference is an earlier acquisition than past hypothetical reference; reference to single hypothetical events appears sometime prior to reference to sequences of hypothetical events; and accuracy is better in self-initiated than other-initiated hypothetical reference. The implications of these findings are discussed.
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