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: 0.69). 03/2013; 174(2):170-91. DOI: 10.1080/00221325.2012.659233
Source: PubMed


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.

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