In relating parent-child conversation to children’s social cognitive development, we examined how mother-child dyads talked about the psychological world. Seventy mothers and their 3- to 5-year-old children made up a story about a series of pictures depicting a sequence of events involving a false belief. Motherchild talk was coded for the use of mental state terms as well as talk about important aspects of the depicted events. The children were given 2 false belief tasks. When age was controlled, mental state term use was associated with children’s false-belief understanding. However, when mental state terms and talk about the aspects of the false-belief component of the story were both taken into account, only talk about the false-belief section of the story accounted for significant additional variance in children’s false-belief understanding. We suggest that these results encourage a broader view of talk about the psychological world beyond an exclusive focus on the use of mental state terms.
Turnbull, William; Carpendale, Jeremy I. M.; and Racine, Timothy P.
"Relations between Mother-Child Talk and 3- to 5-year-old Children’s
Understanding of Belief: Beyond Mental State Terms to Talk
about the Mind,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 54:
3, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol54/iss3/5