What would have happened if...?

What would have happened if...?

Project GARDEN (The University of Texas at Dallas)

Who Can Participate

3- to 6-year-old children and their caregivers who are participating in Project GARDEN and are able to understand and answer questions in English. If you’re already in Project GARDEN and you want to see which study your child can do next, visit https://childrenhelpingscience.com/garden, click "Start Now", and select your child's name under "Find studies for..."

What Happens

In this Project GARDEN study, your child will play 5 mini-games. In each game, your child will get to learn about new people, stories, and things and then answer questions about them! For example, your child might see a ball bounce and then make predictions about where the ball might have gone.

What We're Studying

We’re interested in how children consider different outcomes if they imagine that something they saw or experienced had been different — the ability to reason counterfactually. Research has suggested that this ability gradually in children, and most children at preschool age are equipped with all kinds of abilities that help them imagine alternate scenarios (like having strong executive function skills, or understanding other’s mental states). How do these skills support such reasoning? As adults, we use counterfactuals all the time -- someone who is running late might think to themselves "if I left the the house 5 minutes earlier, would I have been on time for my meeting?" In this case, this adult is imagining an alternative scenario (leaving earlier) to understand how it could have led to a different outcome (make the meeting). It’s an important skill to make inferences and models about the world, and so we want to understand 1) how this ability develops in children and 2) what are the underlying cognitive processes that are related and help children develop their counterfactual reasoning skillset.


15 minutes


$5 USD Amazon.com gift cards (usable on the U.S. website only). You will be emailed your gift card within 7 business days of participating in the study. To receive compensation, you must 1) provide a valid consent video (we will show you how!); 2) your child must be in the age range specified above; and 3) your child must be present during the recorded videos.

This study is conducted by Michelle Wong (contact: michellewong@fas.harvard.edu).

Would you like to participate in this study?