Distant lands make for distant possibilities: Children view improbable events as more possible in far-away locations.

Young children often deny that improbable events are possible. We examined whether children aged 5—7 (N = 300) might have more success in recognizing that these events are possible if they considered whether the events could happen in a distant country. Children heard about improbable and impossible events (Experiments 1A, 1B, and 2) and about ordinary events (Experiment 2) and either judged whether the events could happen in a distant country or locally (Experiments 1A and 2) or with their location unspecified (Experiment 1B). Children were more likely to judge that extraordinary events could happen in a distant country than when the same events were described locally or with location unspecified; also, older children were more likely to deny these events could happen when they were local compared with when their location was unspecified. We also found some evidence that manipulating distance affects judgments more strongly for improbable events than for impossible one. Together, the findings show that children’s assessments of whether hypothetical events are possible are affected by the geographic context of the events. The findings are consistent with accounts holding that children normally assess whether hypothetical events are possible by drawing on their knowledge of the ordinary world but further suggest that children modify this approach when considering events in distant lands. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)