Understanding Theory of Mind in deaf and hearing college students

Marc Marschark, Lindsey Edwards, Candida Peterson, Kathryn Crowe, Dawn Walton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Theory of Mind-the understanding that people have thoughts, wants, and beliefs that influence their interpersonal behavior-is an aspect of social cognition that develops with consistent, increasing complexity across age groups, languages, and cultures. Observed delays in theory of mind development among deaf children and others has led to a conversational account of theory of mind development and its delays in terms of the nature and amount of social communication experienced by children directly (conversationally) and indirectly (via overhearing). The present study explored theory of mind in deaf young adults by evaluating their understanding of sarcasm and advanced false belief (second-order false belief and double bluff), as well as related cognitive abilities. Consistent with previous studies, deaf participants scored significantly below hearing peers on all three theory of mind tasks. Performance was unrelated to their having had early access to social communication via either sign language (from deaf parents) or spoken language (through cochlear implants), suggesting that deaf participants' performance was not solely a function of access to social communication in early childhood. The finding of different predictors of theory of mind performance for deaf and hearing groups is discussed in terms of its language, social, and cognitive foundations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-118
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding Theory of Mind in deaf and hearing college students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this