Talking theory of mind talk: young school-aged children's everyday conversation and understanding of mind and emotion
Links between young children's everyday use of mindful conversational skills and their success on laboratory tests of theory of mind understanding (ToM) were evaluated. Using published scales, teachers rated the conversational behavior and shyness of 129 children aged 60 to 101 months (M = 78·8 months) who were in their first years of primary school. The children also took batteries of first- and second-order false-belief tests along with tests of emotion understanding and general language ability. Correlational and regression analyses showed that performance on false-belief tests of ToM significantly predicted children's competence at reading others' minds in their everyday conversational interactions. Furthermore, these links transcended individual differences in language ability, shy personality, emotion understanding, and age. These findings augment and extend a growing body of evidence linking performance on laboratory ToM tests to socially competent real-world behavior.