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 [email protected]
a2 Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104 [email protected]


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.