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Mother–child conversation and social understanding in Pakistan

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/09/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number5
Volume42
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)296-505
Publication statusPublished
Early online date30/11/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Three competing explanations of the role of adult-conversation in the preschooler’s developing understanding of the mind: the quality of the caregiver’s references to mental states, the child’s grasp of mental state language in such conversations and the connectedness of adult-child talk. These factors are usually highly correlated in Western cultures, but we test them in a culture where the children show a delay in the acquisition of social understanding skills. Two studies are presented to show that 3-5 year olds in Pakistan show limited understanding of a range of measures including desires, pretence and beliefs. Study 2 also examined the ability
to perform these tasks in relation to the three aspects of mother-child conversation collected months before testing and concurrently. The results show that, in Pakistan, maternal and child references to mental states were rare (2% of maternal and 1% of child utterances). Analyses of the relationship between mother-child conversation and the children’s performance on tests of false belied and related constructs, suggested that these measures of social understanding were not predicted uniquely by the connectedness of talk within the dyad, or maternal use of mental state terms. However the children’s concurrent (and to a lesser extent previous) use of mental state terms was related to their grasp of mental states. Thus the data support previous analyses, which suggests that the child’s construction of mental state terms is more crucial in their grasp of the social world.