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The classic model room task: A symbol that doesn’t measure symbolism

PUBLISHED June 23, 2023 (DOI: https://doi.org/10.54985/peeref.2306p4947936)



Catherine Sayer1 , Martin Doherty1
  1. University of East Anglia

Conference / event

Lancaster Conference on Infant & Early Child Development, August 2022 (Lancaster, United Kingdom)

Poster summary

This poster compares performance on a classic hiding game, using a room and its scale model, with pre-school children’s abstract spatial ability and understanding of mental representation. We found performance on the classic Model Room task only related to spatial abilities, potentially important in later science and mathematics education.


Spatial correspondence, Model room task, False belief task, Theory of mind

Research areas

Psychology and Behavioral Sciences


  1. DeLoache, J. S. (1987). Rapid change in the symbolic functioning of veryyoung children. Science, 238(4833), 1556–1557. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.2446392
  2. Sayer, C. M., & Doherty, M. J. (2023). Understanding of spatial correspondence does not contribute to representational understanding: Evidence from the model room and false belief tasks. Developmental Psychology. 59(5), 976–986. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0001508


No data provided

Supplemental files

No data provided

Additional information

Competing interests
No competing interests were disclosed.
Data availability statement
The datasets generated during and / or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Creative Commons license
Copyright © 2023 Sayer et al. This is an open access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Sayer, C., Doherty, M. The classic model room task: A symbol that doesn’t measure symbolism [not peer reviewed]. Peeref 2023 (poster).
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