Scaling Theory of Mind Development in Indigenous- and Anglo-Australian Toddlers and Older Children
We examined the growth of a theory of mind (ToM) in Indigenous Australian children who spoke Aboriginal English as their first language. We also pioneered the suitability of a five-step developmental scale of ToM understanding for 2-year-old toddlers from Indigenous- and AngloAustralian cultural backgrounds. A total of 97 children aged 2 to 5 years took (a) a battery of false belief (FB) tests, (b) a developmental ToM Scale, and (c) a standard language ability test. Results showed that, contrary to earlier findings for Piagetian tasks, the Indigenous Australian children were not delayed in ToM understanding. Instead, at age 2, Indigenous toddlers significantly outperformed their Anglo peers and throughout the preschool years they scored just as highly on FB and all ToM Scale steps as Anglo-Australians their age, notwithstanding their statistically significant delays behind Anglo-Australians in standard English language skill (the language of testing). We also found, for the first time, that the five-step ToM Scale was both suitable for, and sensitive to individual differences in, children as young as age 2. These findings add to a growing body of research highlighting the importance of early family and cultural experiences for the growth of social cognition.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Psychology not elsewhere classified