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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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to investigate possible interactive links between theory of mind (ToM), moral disengagement and relational aggression, using a moderated mediation analysis, with gender as a moderator, in a sample of 120 Greek preadolescents. Results indicated that relational aggression was significantly positively associated with moral disengagement and negatively with ToM. Moderated mediation analyses indicated that boys with deficient ToM were more likely to morally disengage from their actions which in turn resulted in relational aggression, while poor ToM was directly linked to relational aggression only for preadolescent girls. Moral disengagement had a direct effect on relational aggression only for boys, while ToM was found to partially mediate the relationship between moral disengagement and relational aggression only for girls. The results emphasize that the co-morbid effects of socio-cognitive factors should be taken into consideration when relational aggression is explored.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Psychology in the Schools