Culture and the sequence of steps in Theory of Mind development

Ameneh Shahaeian, Candida C. Peterson, Virginia Slaughter, Henry M. Wellman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    127 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    To examine cultural contrasts in the ordered sequence of conceptual developments leading to theory of mind (ToM), we compared 135 3- to 6-year-olds (77 Australians; 58 Iranians) on an established 5-step ToM scale (Wellman & Liu, 2004). There was a cross-cultural difference in the sequencing of ToM steps but not in overall rates of ToM mastery. In line with our predictions, the children from Iran conformed to a distinctive sequence previously observed only in children in China. In contrast to the case with children from Australia (and the United States), knowledge access was understood earlier than opinion diversity in children from Iran, consistent with this collectivist culture's emphasis on filial respect, dispute avoidance, and acquiring knowledge. Having a sibling was linked with faster overall ToM progress in Australia only and was not related to scale sequences in either culture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1239-1247
    Number of pages9
    JournalDevelopmental Psychology
    Volume47
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

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