Good test-retest reliability for standard and advanced false-belief tasks across a wide range of abilities

Claire Hughes, Anna Adlam, Francesca Happé, Jan Jackson, Alan Taylor, Avshalom Caspi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Citations (Scopus)


Although tests of young children's understanding of mind have had a remarkable impact upon developmental and clinical psychological research over the past 20 years, very little is known about their reliability. Indeed, the only existing study of test-retest reliability suggests unacceptably poor results for first-order false-belief tasks (Mayes, Klin, Tercyak, Cicchetti, & Cohen, 1996), although this may in part reflect the nonstandard (video-based) procedures adopted by these authors. The present study had four major aims. The first was to re-examine the reliability of false-belief tasks, using more standard (puppet and storybook) procedures. The second was to assess whether the test-retest reliability of false-belief task performance is equivalent for children of contrasting ability levels. The third aim was to explore whether adopting an aggregate approach improves the reliability with which children's early mental-state awareness can be measured. The fourth aim was to examine for the first time the test-retest reliability of children's performances on more advanced theory-of-mind tasks. Our results suggest that most standard and advanced false-belief tasks do in fact show good test-retest reliability and internal consistency, with very strong test-retest correlations between aggregate scores for children of all levels of ability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-490
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2000


  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Humans
  • Awareness
  • Mental Recall
  • Psychometrics
  • Child, Preschool
  • Wechsler Scales
  • Concept Formation
  • Social Perception
  • Reality Testing
  • Female
  • Male
  • Aptitude
  • Psychological Tests

Cite this