Theory of Mind Understanding and Conversational Patterns in Middle Childhood

Brock University, Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies, Faculty of Education, 500 Glenridge Avenue, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada.
The Journal of Genetic Psychology (Impact Factor: 0.65). 03/2013; 174(2):170-91. DOI: 10.1080/00221325.2012.659233
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The author investigated the longitudinal relations between theory of mind (ToM) understanding and perceptions of self and social conversations in 17 school-aged children (12 girls, 5 boys, age 8-12 years). ToM was assessed at Time 1 (T1; M age = 8 years 5 months, SD = 8.7 months, and perceptions of self and conversational experiences assessed two years later at Time 2 (T2; M age = 10 years 4 months, SD = 7.9 months. Most importantly, longitudinal findings showed that children who scored relatively high on ToM at T1 reported relatively lower perceptions of self-worth and higher number of mental states verbs in their perceptions of peer and family conversations at T2. Significant negative longitudinal associations were found between children's number of siblings and their perceptions of self-worth (T1) and number of cognitive terms in their perceptions of peer and family conversations (T2). Frequency analysis suggested that girls' perceptions of conversations referred to more social and psychological aspects of self and relationships, whereas boys focused mainly on physical activities. Most children were more likely to prefer listening to talking during social conversations. The majority of children reported feelings of mixed or ambiguous emotions during experiences of silence. Implications for socioemotional and cognitive development in early adolescents are discussed.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study assessed young children's understanding of the effects of emotional and physiological states on cognitive performance. Five, 6-, 7-year-olds, and adults (N= 96) predicted and explained how children experiencing a variety of physiological and emotional states would perform on academic tasks. Scenarios included: (a) negative and positive emotions, (b) negative and positive physiological states, and (c) control conditions. All age groups understood the impairing effects of negative emotions and physiological states. Only 7-year-olds, however, showed adult-like reasoning about the potential enhancing effects of positive internal states and routinely cited cognitive mechanisms to explain how internal states affect performance. These results shed light on theory-of-mind development and also have significance for children's everyday school success.
    Child Development 01/2009; 80(1):115-33. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01249.x · 4.92 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: 2 groups of 5–8-year-olds were examined in an effort to explore the developing relations between false belief understanding and an awareness of the individualized nature of personal taste, on the one hand, and, on the other, a maturing grasp of the interpretive character of the knowing process. In Study 1, 20 children between 5 and 8 all behaved in accordance with hypotheses by proving to be indistinguishable in their already good grasp of the possibility of false beliefs and in their common assumption that differences of opinion concerning matters of taste are legitimate expressions of personal preferences. By contrast, only the 7- and 8-year-old children gave evidence of recognizing that ambiguous stimuli especially allow for warrantable differences of interpretation. Study 2 replicated and extended these findings with a group of 48 5-8-year-old subjects, again showing that while 5-year-olds easily pass a standard test of false belief understanding, only children of 7 or 8 ordinarily evidence an appreciation of the interpretive character of the knowing process.
    Child Development 07/1996; 67(4):1686 - 1706. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1996.tb01821.x · 4.92 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Theory of mind (ToM) underlies the ability to attribute mental states to people as a way of understanding their social behaviour. Although ToM development is an active area of research, most empirical investigations focus on infants and young children. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to assess ToM in preadolescents and to determine whether individual differences in this mentalizing ability relate to social competence and relate differently for girls and for boys. It was hypothesized that preadolescents’ ability to understand thoughts and emotions in others would be associated with their social competence. 128 preadolescents (64 girls; 64 boys; mean age 11-9) completed peer social competence ratings, a vocabulary task, and participated in a social understanding (ToM) interview. Teacher ratings of the participants’ social competence were also collected. Based on composite ToM scores, results indicated positive associations between ToM and (a) peer ratings of social-interaction skills, (b) general vocabulary ability. Separate gender analyses revealed significant effects. Results are discussed in relation to (1) individual differences in social understanding and social competence and (2) effects of socio-cultural context.
    Review of Social Development 12/2001; 8(2):237 - 255. DOI:10.1111/1467-9507.00093 · 1.56 Impact Factor
Show more