Language complexity modulates 8- and 10-year-olds’ success at using their theory of mind abilities in a communication task

Wang, Jen Jessica and Ali, Muna and Frisson, Steven and Apperly, Ian (2016) Language complexity modulates 8- and 10-year-olds’ success at using their theory of mind abilities in a communication task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 149. pp. 62-71. ISSN 0022-0965

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Abstract

Basic competence in theory of mind is acquired during early childhood. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that the ability to take others’ perspectives in communication improves continuously from middle childhood to the late teenage years. This indicates that theory of mind performance undergoes protracted developmental changes after the acquisition of basic competence. Currently, little is known about the factors that constrain children’s performance or that contribute to age-related improvement. A sample of 39 8-year-olds and 56 10-year-olds were tested on a communication task in which a speaker’s limited perspective needed to be taken into account and the complexity of the speaker’s utterance varied. Our findings showed that 10-year-olds were generally less egocentric than 8-year-olds. Children of both ages committed more egocentric errors when a speaker uttered complex sentences compared with simple sentences. Both 8- and 10-year-olds were affected by the demand to integrate complex sentences with the speaker’s limited perspective and to a similar degree. These results suggest that long after children’s development of simple visual perspective-taking, their use of this ability to assist communication is substantially constrained by the complexity of the language involved.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 149, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.09.006
ID Code:
87590
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
05 Sep 2017 08:00
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
25 Nov 2020 04:51