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Association between theory of mind and mental state talk in preschoolers and later social competence and behaviour

Barreto, AL; Osorio, A; Baptista, J; Fearon, P; Martins, C; (2018) Association between theory of mind and mental state talk in preschoolers and later social competence and behaviour. Infant and Child Development , 27 (2) , Article e2060. 10.1002/icd.2060. Green open access

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Abstract

This study had 2 primary aims: (a) to investigate the concurrent links between preschool‐aged children's theory of mind (ToM) and mental state talk at 55 months and (b) to examine the longitudinal associations between preschool‐aged children's social understanding, as indicated by their ToM, and mental references, and their later social competence and behaviour at 69 months. Participants included 73 children and their mothers. ToM was assessed using a battery that consisted of 6 standardized tasks, and social competence and behaviour were assessed via teacher ratings. We observed an association between children's ToM and their mental state talk, specifically regarding cognition references during interactions with their mothers. Moreover, both children's ToM and mental references were longitudinally related to social competence and behaviour but only in girls. Our results support that ToM, which was assessed using false belief tasks, and the child's tendencies to refer to mental states during everyday interactions are 2 important related markers of children's social understanding and that both are linked to children's social competence and behaviour. The importance of considering gender‐specific effects when investigating children's social cognition is also highlighted.

Type: Article
Title: Association between theory of mind and mental state talk in preschoolers and later social competence and behaviour
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/icd.2060
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1002/icd.2060
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: mental state talk, preschoolers, social competence, theory of mind
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10050902
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