Counterfactual thinking – the ability to consider alternatives to past events and make inferences about what might have happened – plays an important role in human learning and decision-making. In this line of work, we study the emergence of counterfactual reasoning in early childhood and how it contributes to learning.
In this research we investigate: 1) the development of counterfactual reasoning and its applications to learning; 2) the relation between children’s causal reasoning and their ability to reason counterfactually; 3) the types of spontaneous counterfactuals that children generate; 4) the role of counterfactual thinking in promoting children’s scientific reasoning skills.
- Nyhout, A., Iannuzziello, A., Walker, C.M., & Ganea, P.A. (2019). Thinking counterfactually supports children’s ability to conduct a controlled test of a hypothesis. In A. Goel, C. Seifert, & C. Freska (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Montreal, CA: Cognitive Science Society. [poster]
- Nyhout, A. & Ganea, P. A. (2019). Mature counterfactual reasoning in 4- and 5-year olds. Cognition, 183, 57-66. doi: 10.1016/jcognition.2018.10.027
- Nyhout, A., Henke, L., & Ganea, P. A. (2017). Children’s counterfactual reasoning about causally overdetermined events.Child Development, doi: 10.1111/cdev.12913