Young children's reasoning about the order of past events

Abstract
Four studies are reported that employed an object location task to assess temporal–causal reasoning. In Experiments 1–3, successfully locating the object required a retrospective consideration of the order in which two events had occurred. In Experiment 1, 5- but not 4-year-olds were successful; 4-year-olds also failed to perform at above-chance levels in modified versions of the task in Experiments 2 and 3. However, in Experiment 4, 3-year-olds were successful when they were able to see the object being placed first in one location and then in the other, rather than having to consider retrospectively the sequence in which two events had happened. The results suggest that reasoning about the causal significance of the temporal order of events may not be fully developed before 5 years.
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