Theory of mind at home: linking authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles to children's social understanding
Building on Vinden's pioneering research [(2001). Parenting attitudes and children's understanding of mind: A comparison of Korean American and Anglo-American families. Cognitive Development, 16, 793-809], we examined how parents' use of authoritative versus authoritarian styles of discipline related to their children's development of theory of mind (ToM). ToM was assessed using standard false belief tests and a developmental ToM Scale [Wellman, H. M., & Liu, D. (2004). Scaling of theory-of-mind tasks. Child Development, 75(2), 523-541] comprising five reliably sequential steps of ToM understanding from awareness of others' desires through false belief to the recognition of hidden emotion that even 8-year-olds often have difficulty with. In contrast to previous largely null results, our results from a sample of 30 Anglo-Australian children aged 5-12 years and their 30 parents showed, for the first time, that there are significant negative links of child ToM with parental authoritarianism and significant positive links, independent of child age and language skill, between ToM understanding and authoritative parenting. These results contribute to a growing body of research on how family processes interconnect with children's social understanding and social adjustment.
Early Child Development and Care
Psychology not elsewhere classified