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‘Theory of mind’ development of Pakistani children: do preschoolers acquire an understanding of desire, pretence and belief in a universal sequence?

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2015
<mark>Journal</mark>European Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number2
Volume12
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)177-188
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Research on “theory of mind” (TOM) suggests that a grasp of the mind develops universally and sequentially, but both these claims require testing in different cultural groups. Study 1, involving 72 preschoolers, showed the expected developmental transition on false belief tasks; 3 year olds were below statistical chance, while 4 year olds were at chance, representing a lag behind Western children. The same pattern of at chance (pretence, desire and belief) and below chance performance (false belief) was replicated in study 2 with 77 preschoolers (3–5 years) and corroborated the lag identified for some Asian countries. This deficient and varied timing of TOM performance is consistent with theories (social constructivist) supporting the role of social factors in TOM development. Moreover, significant inter-task correlations corroborate the need to broaden the research focus beyond false belief tasks.