Pretense, Executive Functions, and Counterfactual Reasoning: Evaluating the Case for a ‘Unified Theory of Imaginative Processes’

Gill Althia Francis, Jenny Gibson

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Pretense, counterfactual reasoning (CFR), and Executive Functions (EFs) are predicted to be related cognitive skills sharing underlying cognitive dimensions. We used a variable latent modelling approach to test a hypothetical model of the structural relation between pretense, CFR, and EFs. Participant data were analysed for 189 children (M = 4.8 years, range = 4 – 5.6 years, boys = 101, females = 88). Participants were predominantly White and 32% (n=62) of children lived in multilingual homes. Participants completed pretend-play, CFR, EFs, and language tasks. Pretense and CFR constructs were significantly correlated (r = 0.51, p = .001) and inhibition uniquely associated with both pretense and CFR. The hypothetical model was a good fit of the data.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPsyArXiv Preprints
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2021

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