Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Theory of mind development from adolescence to adulthood: Testing the two-component model


Meinhardt-Injac, Bozana; Daum, Moritz M; Meinhardt, Günter (2020). Theory of mind development from adolescence to adulthood: Testing the two-component model. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 38(2):289-303.

Abstract

The ability to infer mental and affective states of others is crucial for social functioning. This ability, denoted as Theory of Mind (ToM), develops rapidly during childhood, yet results on its development across adolescence and into young adulthood are rare. In the present study, we tested the two-component model, measuring age-related changes in social-perceptual and social-cognitive ToM in a sample of 267 participants between 11 and 25 years of age. Additionally, we measured language, reasoning, and inhibitory control as major covariates. Participants inferred mental states from non-verbal cues in a social-perceptual task (Eye Test) and from stories with faux pas in a social-cognitive task (Faux Pas Test). Results showed substantial improvement across adolescence in both ToM measures and in the covariates. Analysis with linear mixed models (LMM) revealed specific age-related growth for the social-perceptual component, while the age-related increase of the social-cognitive component fully aligned with the increase of the covariates. These results support the distinction between ToM components and indicate that adolescence is a crucial period for developing social-perceptual ToM abilities. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? To date, much research has been dedicated to Theory of Mind (ToM) development in early and middle childhood. However, only a few studies have examined development of ToM in adolescence. Studies so far suggest age-related differences in ToM between adolescents and young adults. What this study adds The study offers several methodological advantages including a large sample size with a continuous distribution of age (age 11-25) and the use of a comprehensive test battery to assess ToM and covariates (language, executive functions, reasoning). The results provide evidence for asymmetries in the development of two ToM components (social-perceptual and social-cognitive; the two-component account) across the studied age range: the social perceptual component showed specific development, while the age-related increase of the social-cognitive component fully aligned with increase of the covariates. Adolescence is a crucial period for developing social-perceptual ToM abilities.

Abstract

The ability to infer mental and affective states of others is crucial for social functioning. This ability, denoted as Theory of Mind (ToM), develops rapidly during childhood, yet results on its development across adolescence and into young adulthood are rare. In the present study, we tested the two-component model, measuring age-related changes in social-perceptual and social-cognitive ToM in a sample of 267 participants between 11 and 25 years of age. Additionally, we measured language, reasoning, and inhibitory control as major covariates. Participants inferred mental states from non-verbal cues in a social-perceptual task (Eye Test) and from stories with faux pas in a social-cognitive task (Faux Pas Test). Results showed substantial improvement across adolescence in both ToM measures and in the covariates. Analysis with linear mixed models (LMM) revealed specific age-related growth for the social-perceptual component, while the age-related increase of the social-cognitive component fully aligned with the increase of the covariates. These results support the distinction between ToM components and indicate that adolescence is a crucial period for developing social-perceptual ToM abilities. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? To date, much research has been dedicated to Theory of Mind (ToM) development in early and middle childhood. However, only a few studies have examined development of ToM in adolescence. Studies so far suggest age-related differences in ToM between adolescents and young adults. What this study adds The study offers several methodological advantages including a large sample size with a continuous distribution of age (age 11-25) and the use of a comprehensive test battery to assess ToM and covariates (language, executive functions, reasoning). The results provide evidence for asymmetries in the development of two ToM components (social-perceptual and social-cognitive; the two-component account) across the studied age range: the social perceptual component showed specific development, while the age-related increase of the social-cognitive component fully aligned with increase of the covariates. Adolescence is a crucial period for developing social-perceptual ToM abilities.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics
2 citations in Web of Science®
2 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

4 downloads since deposited on 23 Feb 2021
4 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Developmental and Educational Psychology
Life Sciences > Developmental Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:June 2020
Deposited On:23 Feb 2021 14:05
Last Modified:24 Feb 2021 21:00
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0261-510X
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/bjdp.12320
PubMed ID:31960462

Download

Hybrid Open Access

Download PDF  'Theory of mind development from adolescence to adulthood: Testing the two-component model'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Language: English
Filetype: PDF
Size: 278kB
View at publisher
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)