Scaling of theory-of-mind tasks

Child Dev. Mar-Apr 2004;75(2):523-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00691.x.


Two studies address the sequence of understandings evident in preschoolers' developing theory of mind. The first, preliminary study provides a meta-analysis of research comparing different types of mental state understandings (e.g., desires vs. beliefs, ignorance vs. false belief). The second, primary study tests a theory-of-mind scale for preschoolers. In this study 75 children (aged 2 years, 11 months to 6 years, 6 months) were tested on 7 tasks tapping different aspects of understanding persons' mental states. Responses formed a consistent developmental progression, where for most children if they passed a later item they passed all earlier items as well, as confirmed by Guttman and Rasch measurement model analyses.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Social Perception*