Theory of Mind Understanding and Conversational Patterns in Middle Childhood
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.
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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
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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
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ABSTRACT: The present study investigated the role of theory of mind (ToM) skills in three forms of involvement in bullying: ringleader bullying, defending the victim(s), and victimization. Individual (affective empathy) and interpersonal variables (social preference and perceived popularity) were assumed to moderate the associations between ToM and the ways of being involved in bullying. Moderation effects by gender were also explored. Participants were 211 primary school pupils (average age = 10 years and 2 months, SD = 6 months), who took part in a ToM interview and filled in self- and peer-report questionnaires on empathy, social status, and involvement in bullying. ToM skills were positively linked to defending, and among boys this association was further strengthened by social preference. Practical implications include the need to focus on both peer relationships (i.e., status) and emotional characteristics (i.e., empathy) when trying to motivate youth with good cognitive skills to actively defend their victimized classmates.The Journal of Early Adolescence 02/2010; 30(1):138-170. DOI:10.1177/0272431609342983 · 2.30 Impact Factor