Social interaction skills and theory of mind in young children

Dev Psychol. 1999 Mar;35(2):386-91. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.35.2.386.


Two studies explored relations between peer social skills and theory of mind in young children. In Study 1, a global teacher rating of social skills with peers, performance on a traditional false-belief task, a standardized assessment of auditory language comprehension, and a time sampling of amount of speech with peers were obtained. Positive, but moderate, zero-order correlations were observed between the false-belief measure and social skills, and false belief accounted for a significant amount of additional variance in social skills after covarying age and the 2 measures of language. Study 2 replicated the findings of Study 1 by using a larger sample and a standardized teacher questionnaire. The results are discussed with regard to the critical role of a mentalistic theory of behavior for human social interactions.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child Language
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Psychology, Child
  • Socialization*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Verbal Behavior