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Social Influences on False Belief Access: Specific Sibling Influences or General Apprenticeship?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date12/1996
JournalChild Development
Number of pages18
Original languageEnglish


Some recent studies have found a relation between the number of siblings 3–4-year-old children have and their performance on false belief tasks. 2 experiments reported here examine a variety of factors in children's social environments, including daily contact with peers and adults as well as the numbers of their siblings, on a battery of false belief tests. In Experiment 1, 82 preschoolers were studied in Rethymnon, Crete, in order to obtain a range of extended kin available as a resource for the child. In Experiment 2, 75 Cypriot preschoolers were studied in Nicosia in order to examine the influences of each child's daily social contacts, as measured by maternal questionnaire. Logistic regression revealed that the factors which account for most of the predicted variance on the theory of mind tests were (a) the number of adult kin available (Experiment 1) or adults interacted with daily (Experiment 2), (b) the child's age, (c) the number of older siblings a child has, and (d) the number of older children interacted with daily. The results suggested that theory of mind is not simply passed from one sibling to another in a process of social influence. It seems more likely that a variety of knowledgeable members of her or his culture influence the apprentice theoretician of mind.