Virginia Slaughter

Virginia Slaughter
The University of Queensland | UQ · School of Psychology

PhD

About

160
Publications
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6,685
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Publications

Publications (160)
Article
Traditionally, infants have learned how to interact with objects in their environment through direct observations of adults and peers. In recent decades these models have been available over different media, and this has introduced non-human agents to infants’ learning environments. Humanoid robots are increasingly portrayed as social agents in on...
Article
Commensurate with constant technological advances, social robots are increasingly anticipated to enter homes and classrooms; however , little is known about the efficacy of social robots as teaching tools. To investigate children's learning from robots, 1-to 3-year-olds observed either a human or a robot demonstrate two goal-directed object manipul...
Article
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Neonatal imitation is widely accepted as fact and cited as evidence of an inborn mirror neuron system that underpins human social behaviour, even though its existence has been debated for decades. The possibility that newborns do not imitate was reinvigorated recently by powerful longitudinal data and novel analyses. Although the evidence is still...
Article
Neonatal imitation is a cornerstone in many theoretical accounts of human development and social behavior, yet its existence has been debated for the past 40 years. To examine possible explanations for the inconsistent findings in this body of research, we conducted a multilevel meta-analysis synthesizing 336 effect sizes from 33 independent sample...
Article
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This study explored theory of mind (ToM) development in school-aged deaf children. To address new questions, we gave a standard, well-controlled false-belief test to a large (n = 200) sample of severely-to-profoundly deaf children aged 8–15 years in a non-Western culture (Thailand). There were 190 deaf children of hearing parents and 10 deaf native...
Article
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The current sentence is in the discussion (sub-section The role of pre-conception maternal depression) and reads: "Pre-conception treatment of mental health issues is also associated with substantial savings in health care costs (Chojenta et al., 2018)."
Article
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Maternal depression is a potent risk factor for poor child development across a number of domains but the mechanisms of transmission are poorly understood. This study aimed to test competing mediators of the association between pre-conception maternal depression and child psychosocial functioning. In 2016, mothers in the 1973–1978 cohort of the Aus...
Article
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We investigated whether embodied ownership is evident in early childhood. To do so, we gifted a drinking bottle to children (aged 24 to 48 months) to use for two weeks. They returned to perform reach-grasp-lift-replace actions with their own or the experimenter’s bottle while we recorded their movements using motion capture. There were differences...
Article
Background: Both siblings and parents are important interactional partners for children with ASD, but we know little about whether these interactions differ between these two groups, or between older and younger siblings. Aims: To gather data about how parents perceive the interactional behaviors displayed by their child with ASD in play with th...
Article
Past research has indicated that young children have a propensity to adopt the causally unnecessary actions of an adult, a phenomenon known as overimitation. Among competing perspectives, social accounts suggest that overimitation satisfies social motivations, be they affiliative or normative, whereas the "copy-all/refine-later" account proposes th...
Article
We examined Turkish participants’ mindreading accuracy toward ingroup versus outgroup targets. Three hundred and fifty-four Turkish participants were randomly assigned to one of three target groups: Turkish, Syrian, or Norwegian. The mindreading accuracy for these targets was measured along with the perceived cultural similarity of the target to th...
Article
Moral evaluations of prosocial lies and selfish lies were examined in 156 children aged 6 to 12 years (77 Australian; 79 Singaporean; mean age 9.38 years) along with theory of mind (ToM) and cognitive empathy. The cultures were chosen because while highly similar in many respects they differ in values orientation, Singapore being highly collectivis...
Article
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The influential hypothesis that humans imitate from birth – and that this capacity is foundational to social cognition – is currently being challenged from several angles. Most prominently, the largest and most comprehensive longitudinal study of neonatal imitation to date failed to find evidence that neonates copied any of nine actions at any of f...
Article
Using a between‐groups design and random assignment, this study examined 214 Turkish children's (M = 11.66 years) mindreading and general reasoning about in‐group members (Turks), similar out‐group members (Syrians within Turkey) and dissimilar out‐group members (Northern Europeans). Children heard four mindreading and four general reasoning storie...
Article
We examined the associations between theory of mind (ToM) and peer cooperation among preschoolers in two play contexts. Fifty-eight 3-to-5-year-old children from middle class suburbs of Brisbane, Australia were tested for ToM and observed in same-age and same-gender dyads for peer cooperation. To measure ToM, we administered the 5-step ToM scale. W...
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The Observation of Human-Animal Interaction for Research (OHAIRE) is a coding tool developed to capture the behavior of children when interacting with social partners and animals in naturalistic settings. The OHAIRE behavioral categories of focus are emotional displays, social communication behaviors toward adults and peers, behaviors directed towa...
Article
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In the last century, decreases in infant and child mortality, urbanization and increases in healthcare efficacy have reduced children's personal exposure to death and dying. So how do children acquire accurate conceptions of death in this context? In this paper, we discuss three sources of children's learning about death and dying, namely, direct e...
Article
Correct counting respects the stable order principle whereby the count terms are recited in a fixed order every time. The 4 experiments reported here tested whether precounting infants recognize and prefer correct stable-ordered counting. The authors introduced a novel preference paradigm in which infants could freely press two buttons to activate...
Article
Persuasion is an essential social skill. Yet its development and underpinnings are poorly understood. In 2 studies, a total of 167 children aged 3 to 12 years took theory of mind (ToM) tests and participated in unscripted, seminaturalistic persuasive conversations. Children were typically developing (TD) or had deafness or autism spectrum disorder...
Article
Individual differences in preschoolers’ theory of mind (ToM) development were studied in relation to parents’ preferences for using mental state language in conversations with their child in 121 German families from two different socioeconomic (SES) levels in a 3-phase longitudinal design. We also cross-sectionally tested 47 Australian mother-child...
Article
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Children’s theory of mind (ToM) unfolds reliably through a sequence of conceptual milestones including, but not limited to, false belief. Sequences vary with culture, one observed previously in Western cultures (Australia, the United States) and another in two non-Western cultures, China and Iran. Two explanations for cross-cultural sequence differ...
Chapter
Social cognition in humans is uniquely complex. Recent experimental procedures, cleverly modelled on everyday situations, now confirm that some basic mentalizing is evident in infants' non-verbal communication and helping behaviours. A study showed that 6- to 8-year-old children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), when presented with the same s...
Article
Theory of Mind (ToM) is thought to play a key role in social information processing as it refers to the ability of individuals to represent the mental states of others (e.g., intentions, desires, beliefs). A provocative hypothesis has been put forward which espouses the existence of two ToM systems: one that is implicit and involves the automatic a...
Article
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Keven and Akins propose that neonatal "imitation" is a function of newborns' spontaneous oral stereotypies and should be viewed within the context of normal aerodigestive development. Their proposal is in line with the result of our recent large longitudinal study that found no compelling evidence for neonatal imitation. Together these works prompt...
Article
It has been argued that children who possess an advanced theory of mind (ToM) are more likely to act prosocially, yet the empirical findings are mixed. To address this issue definitively, a meta-analytic integration of all prior literature that met appropriate inclusion criteria was conducted. In total, 76 studies including 6,432 children between 2...
Poster
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Functional explanations for imitation in the first few weeks of life are explored.
Article
Research Findings: An emerging consensus is that casual, direct contact with nature influences the development of children’s biological knowledge. Here we review the existing literature on this topic, focusing on the effects of (a) rural versus urban rearing environments and (b) pet ownership and care on children’s biological concepts and reasoning...
Article
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Human children copy others’ actions with high fidelity, supporting early cultural learning and assisting in the development and maintenance of behavioral traditions [ 1 ]. Imitation has long been assumed to occur from birth [ 2–4 ], with influential theories (e.g., [ 5–7 ]) placing an innate imitation module at the foundation of social cognition (p...
Article
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Una pregunta que aún se mantiene sin responder dentro de la literatura de Teoría de la Mente es siexperimentamos limitaciones para entender y atribuir estados mentales a personas que pertenezcan aculturas diferentes a la nuestra. Para responder este interrogante, un estudio reciente de nuestro laboratorioproporcionó evidencia sobre cómo la pertenen...
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Very preterm birth (<32 weeks gestation) is associated with motor, cognitive, behavioural and educational problems in children and maternal depression and withdrawal. Early interventions that target parenting have the greatest potential to create sustained effects on child development and parental psychopathology. Triple P (Positive Parenting Progr...
Article
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Consequences of theory of mind (ToM) development for daily social lives of children are uncertain. Five to 13-year-olds (N = 195) with typical development, autism, or deafness (both native and late signers) took ToM tests and their teachers reported on their social skills for peer interaction (e.g., leadership, group entry). Groups differed in both...
Article
Theory of mind, or mindreading, refers to our uniquely human capacity to infer what is in other people's minds. Recent research suggests that “implicit” elements of this ability can be seen as early as the second year of life, in infants’ spontaneous helping, communicative, and eye-gaze behaviours. More “explicit” verbally mediated mindreading skil...
Article
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience high rates of social stress and anxious arousal. Preliminary evidence suggests that companion animals can act as buffers against the adverse effects of social stress in adults. We measured continuous physiological arousal in children with ASD and typically developing (TD) children in a social...
Article
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It has been argued that children who possess an advanced theory of mind (ToM) are viewed positively by their peers, but the empirical findings are mixed. This meta-analysis of 20 studies including 2,096 children (aged from 2 years, 8 months to 10 years) revealed a significant overall association (r = .19) indicating that children with higher ToM sc...
Article
Fink, Begeer, Peterson, Slaughter, and de Rosnay (2014) conducted a prospective longitudinal study showing that theory-of-mind (ToM) development at school entry (mean age 5.61 years) significantly predicted friendlessness both concurrently and 2 years later. Friendlessness (defined as lacking any friendship that is mutually reciprocated) is concept...
Article
Previous research suggests that being imitated by an adult increases the social behaviors of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In the current study, we examined whether familiarity with the imitating social partner modulates this effect. Ten children with ASD and their mothers participated. The children's social behaviors were observ...
Article
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In this article, we summarize research on the development of mind reading in different cultural contexts. Much of this work has focused on the mind-reading concept of false belief, that is, children's ability to predict what an actor is likely to do based on what he or she thinks. In all cultures tested, individuals acquire this skill in childhood,...
Article
Chronic friendlessness in childhood predicts adverse mental health outcomes throughout life, yet its earliest roots are poorly understood. In theory, developing a theory of mind (ToM) should help children gain mutual friends and one preschool study (Peterson & Siegal, 2002. Br J Dev Psychol, 20, 205) suggested a cross-sectional connection. We there...
Article
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For more than three decades, considerable research effort has been expended in documenting children’s development of a theory of mind (ToM), or the recognition that behavior is determined by mental states. Studies comparing ToM development in children from Western and non- Western countries have shown differences in patterns of development in vario...
Article
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There is now considerable evidence that neurotypical individuals track the internal cognitions of others, even in the absence of instructions to do so. This finding has prompted the suggestion that humans possess an implicit mental state tracking system (implicit Theory of Mind, ToM) that exists alongside a system that allows the deliberate and exp...
Article
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Developing an understanding of others’ minds (called theory of mind) has been a topic of considerable research effort. Literature on theory of mind and family influences within Western cultures has documented that children’s understanding of mind is related to parental and family factors such as the number of siblings, discussion about emotions ins...
Article
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Over the past three decades, considerable research effort has been expended charting how and when children develop an understanding of others’ minds. Multicultural studies allow us to determine what features of this important cognitive developmental achievement might be universal and what aspects are culturally specific. However, the body of litera...
Article
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ABSTRACT Links between young children's everyday use of mindful conversational skills and their success on laboratory tests of theory of mind understanding (ToM) were evaluated. Using published scales, teachers rated the conversational behavior and shyness of 129 children aged 60 to 101 months (M = 78·8 months) who were in their first years of prim...
Article
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Adult humans demonstrate differential processing of stimuli that were recurrent threats to safety and survival throughout evolutionary history. Recent studies suggest that differential processing of evolutionarily ancient threats occurs in human infants, leading to the proposal of an inborn mechanism for rapid identification of, and response to, ev...
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Objective: The objective of this study was to implement and evaluate a classroom-based Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) program on social functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Design: This was a multisite, control-to-intervention design study. Settings/location: The study was conducted in 41 classrooms in 15 schools in B...
Article
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Considerable research efforts have been expended investigating imitation in newborns over the past 35 years. This is because neonatal imitation is extremely controversial, with debates focusing on whether the phenomenon even exists, what the mechanism is that drives it, and the function that it serves. Three prominent theories that the field curren...
Article
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This study investigated the effects of a classroom-based animal-assisted activities (AAA) program with guinea pigs on the social functioning of primary school children. We hypothesized that participants in the experimental condition (n = 64), compared with a waitlist control group (n = 64), would demonstrate improvements in social functioning follo...
Article
We evaluated the utility of a brief, seven-item, teacher-rated Peer Social Maturity Scale (PSMAT). In Study 1, teachers of 138 Australian children (ranging from 5 to 8 years and 5 months old) in kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2 rated their pupils' social maturity using the PSMAT and their classroom social skills via the Social Skills Rating System (...
Article
Theory of mind (ToM) development, assessed via 'litmus' false belief tests, is severely delayed in autism, but the standard testing procedure may underestimate these children's genuine understanding. To explore this, we developed a novel test involving competition to win a reward as the motive for tracking other players' beliefs (the 'Dot-Midge tas...
Article
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We investigated cultural influences on young children’s acquisition of social-cognitive concepts. A theory of mind (ToM) scale (Wellman & Liu, 2004) was given to 129 children (71 boys, 58 girls) ranging in age from 3 years 0 months to 7 years 10 months. The children were from three distinct cultural groups: (a) trash pickers (pemulung) living a sub...
Article
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Previous research has demonstrated the capacity of animal presence to stimulate social interaction among humans. The purpose of this study was to examine the interactions of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with an adult and their typically-developing peers in the presence of animals (two guinea pigs) compared to toys. Ninety-nine child...
Data
Observation of Human-Animal Interaction for Research (OHAIRE). Behavior coding definitions. (DOCX)
Article
Children with autism show clear deficits in copying others' bodily oriented actions whereas their capacity for replicating others' object-directed actions appears relatively spared. One explanation is that unlike bodily oriented actions, object-directed actions have tangible, functional outcomes and hence rely far less on social motivations for the...
Article
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Introduction Infants with asymmetric brain lesions are at high risk of developing congenital hemiplegia. Action–observation training (AOT) has been shown to effectively improve upper limb motor function in adults with chronic stroke. AOT is based on action observation, whereby new motor skills can be learnt by observing motor actions. This process...
Article
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To assess claims about developmental homologies, or devologies, longitudinal data are needed. Here, we illustrate this with the debate about the purported foundational role of neonatal imitation in children's social and cognitive development. Cross-sectional studies over the past 35 years have clarified neither the prevalence of imitation in newbor...
Article
This study investigated how infants perceive and interpret human body movement. We recorded the eye movements and pupil sizes of 9- and 12-month-old infants and of adults (N=14 per group) as they observed animation clips of biomechanically possible and impossible arm movements performed by a human and by a humanoid robot. Both 12-month-old infants...