Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Dienes & Perner: Implicit and explicit knowledge

Consciousness and control: The argument from developmental psychology

Philip David Zelazo a1 and Douglas Frye a2
a1 Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3G3
a2 Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104


Limitations of Dienes & Perner's (D&P's) theory are traced to the assumption that the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness is true. D&P claim that 18-month-old children are capable of explicitly representing factuality, from which it follows (on D&P's theory) that they are capable of explicitly representing content, attitude, and self. D&P then attempt to explain 3-year-olds' failures on tests of voluntary control such as the dimensional change card sort by suggesting that at this age children cannot represent content and attitude explicitly. We provide a better levels-of-consciousness account for age-related abulic dissociations between knowledge and action.