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    Development of online use of theory of mind during adolescence: an eye-tracking study

    Symeonidou, I. and Dumontheil, Iroise and Chow, W.-Y. and Breheny, R. (2016) Development of online use of theory of mind during adolescence: an eye-tracking study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 149 , pp. 81-97. ISSN 0022-0965.

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    We investigated the development of theory of mind use through eye-tracking in children (9–13 years old, n = 14), adolescents (14–17.9 years old, n = 28), and adults (19–29 years old, n = 23). Participants performed a computerized task in which a director instructed them to move objects placed on a set of shelves. Some of the objects were blocked off from the director’s point of view; therefore, participants needed to take into consideration the director’s ignorance of these objects when following the director’s instructions. In a control condition, participants performed the same task in the absence of the director and were told that the instructions would refer only to items in slots without a back panel, controlling for general cognitive demands of the task. Participants also performed two inhibitory control tasks. We replicated previous findings, namely that in the director-present condition, but not in the control condition, children and adolescents made more errors than adults, suggesting that theory of mind use improves between adolescence and adulthood. Inhibitory control partly accounted for errors on the director task, indicating that it is a factor of developmental change in perspective taking. Eye-tracking data revealed early eye gaze differences between trials where the director’s perspective was taken into account and those where it was not. Once differences in accuracy rates were considered, all age groups engaged in the same kind of online processing during perspective taking but differed in how often they engaged in perspective taking. When perspective is correctly taken, all age groups’ gaze data point to an early influence of perspective information.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Theory of mind, Adolescence, Eye-tracking, Perspective taking, Inhibition, Social cognition
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Educational Neuroscience, Centre for, Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2016 10:36
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:20


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