Examining the relationships among parental mind-mindedness, parental connected talk, mental-state talk, and children’s social understanding: a longitudinal study

Wong, Kei Ki ORCID: 0000-0002-4372-9817 (2021). Examining the relationships among parental mind-mindedness, parental connected talk, mental-state talk, and children’s social understanding: a longitudinal study. University of Birmingham. M.Sc.

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Introduction: Socioconstructivist accounts suggest that children gain insights into other people’s mental states through conversation. Previous studies have identified some parental predictors of children’s theory of mind (ToM, i.e., the capacity to understand people’s behaviours using internal states), such as parental mind-mindedness (parental MM), parental connected talk, and parental mental-state talk (MST). However, it remains unclear whether these parental predictors are related to one another and whether these parenting constructs have unique influences on children’s ToM. Moreover, it is unknown if these parental predictors have domain-specific or domain-general influences on children’s ToM and language ability.

Aims: To (a) examine the uniqueness and specificity of the longitudinal association between the parental measures and children’s ToM; (b) examine the overlaps between parental MM, parental connected talk and parental MST and the unique contribution of parental behaviour to children’s ToM (c) determine whether there are child-driven effects on parental MM and MST.

Method: In total, 117 parent–child dyads participated in this study. The average age of the children at Time 1 was 3.94 (SD = .53, range = 1.95). Additionally, 103 parent–child dyads participated at Time 2. Of the children, 57 were girls (48.7%), and 60 were boys (51.3%). The average age of the children at Time 2 was 5.11 years (SD = .54, range = 2.17). Results: I examined the link between these parental predictors and used cross-lagged longitudinal analysis to examine the directions of the associations between these parental constructs and children’s ToM.

Results: The main findings of this study were as follows: (a) parental MST was the only parenting measure that predicted children’s later ToM, (b) these parenting measures were unrelated to each other, and (c) children’s language predicted parents’ later MST.

Discussion: Overall, these results suggest that parental MST has a specific influence on children’s ToM. In addition, parental MM, parental connected talk, and MST appear to represent different domains of parenting skills, which is in line with the domain-specificity framework outlined by Grusec and Davidov (2010). Moreover, children who demonstrated more advanced language development earlier elicited more MST from their parents later on. These findings are consistent with the socioconstructivist perspective, which suggests that children’s exposure to language that draws upon parents’ internal states promotes children’s ToM.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Sc.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Sc.
Devine, Rory T.UNSPECIFIEDorcid.org/0000-0002-3710-7878
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/10521


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