Theory of mind development from adolescence to adulthood: Testing the two-component model
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
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. Show more
Journal / seriesBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Pages / Article No.
Subjectadolescence; socio‐emotional development; Theory of Mind; two‐component model; young adulthood
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