Theory of mind in middle childhood and early adolescence: Different from before?


Studies with preschool children have shown that language and executive function are important for theory of mind, but few studies have examined these associations in older children and in an integrative theory-guided manner. The theory of constructive operators was used as a framework to test a model of relations among mental attentional capacity, attentional inhibition, language, executive processes (shifting and updating), and higher order theory of mind in two groups of school-aged children: one in middle childhood (n=226; mean age=8.08years) and the other in early adolescence (n=216; mean age=12.09years). Results revealed a complex model of interrelations between cognitive resources and language in middle childhood that directly and indirectly predicted theory of mind. The model in early adolescence was less complex, however, and highlighted the importance of semantic language and shifting for theory of mind. Our findings suggest not only that contributors to theory of mind change over time but also that they may depend on the maturity level of the theory of mind system being examined.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.12.006

Cite this paper

@article{ImBolter2016TheoryOM, title={Theory of mind in middle childhood and early adolescence: Different from before?}, author={Nancie Im-Bolter and Alba Agostino and Keely Owens-Jaffray}, journal={Journal of experimental child psychology}, year={2016}, volume={149}, pages={98-115} }