In 2 studies we uncover some of children's earliest conceptions of various realities, nonrealities, and appearances. In the first study, we investigated children's early understanding by examining their use of the words real and really in spontaneous speech. These natural language data consisted of longitudinal samples of 6 children's speech between the ages of 1 and 6 from the childes database. Analyses of these samples showed that by age 3 children clearly distinguished between reality and a variety of nonreal contrasts in their everyday speech. For example, young children distinguished between toys, pictures, and pretend actions versus their real natures. We claim that, in making these distinctions, children often are considering appearances, broadly construed. To confirm this, we conducted a second experimental study with 3‐year‐olds, in which we questioned children about the reality and appearance of a variety of items. Results from this study confirm and clarify our findings from the natural language data. We discuss the implications of these studies for current descriptions of young children's understanding of realities and nonrealities, including their understanding of the distinction between reality and appearance.
Child Development – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 1990
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