ERIC Number: EJ941085
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Nov
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Mental Playmates: Siblings, Executive Functioning and Theory of Mind
McAlister, Anna; Peterson, Candida C.
British Journal of Developmental Psychology, v24 n4 p733-751 Nov 2006
This study assessed the theory of mind (ToM) and executive functioning (EF) abilities of 124 typically developing preschool children aged 3 to 5 years in relation to whether or not they had a child-aged sibling (i.e. a child aged 1 to 12 years) at home with whom to play and converse. On a ToM battery that included tests of false belief, appearance-reality (AR) and pretend representation, children who had at least 1 child-aged sibling scored significantly higher than both only children and those whose only siblings were infants or adults. The numbers of child-aged siblings in preschoolers' families positively predicted their scores on both a ToM battery (4 tasks) and an EF battery (2 tasks), and these associations remained significant with language ability partialled out. Results of a hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that independent contributions to individual differences in ToM were made by language ability, EF skill and having a child-aged sibling. However, even though some conditions for mediation were met, there was no statistically reliable evidence that EF skills mediated the advantage of presence of child-aged siblings for ToM performance. While consistent with the theory that distinctively childish interaction among siblings accelerates the growth of both ToM and EF capacities, alternative evidence and alternative theoretical interpretations for the findings were also considered.
Descriptors: Theory of Mind, Siblings, Preschool Children, Multiple Regression Analysis, Language Aptitude, Cognitive Processes, Play, Interpersonal Communication, Imagination, Predictor Variables, Age Differences, Developmental Psychology
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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