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Origins of verbal logic: spontaneous denials by two- and three-year olds*

  • Roy D. Pea (a1)

Children two to three years of age can spontaneously correct false statements and affirm true ones in a modified sentence verification paradigm. Such performances imply that very young children display knowledge of the rules of correspondence between language and reality (truth conditions) which are central to propositional logic, at an age when logical development in cognition has not been previously acknowledged.

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This work derives from part of an unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Oxford, England. I especially thank Jerome S. Bruner, John Churcher, Michael Scaife, Susan Sugarman, and Cathi Urwin for advice and encouragement during the project, Kristine MacKain and Susan Sugarman for criticisms of an early version of this paper, and the children and mothers who patiently participated in the study. The research was supported by The Rhodes Trust, Oxford, and the writing by NIMH Traineeship 15125. Address for correspondence: Clark University, Heinz Werner Institute of Developmental Psychology, Worcester, MA 01610, U.S.A.

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Journal of Child Language
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