Matching Items (10)

Theory of Mind Development in Middle Childhood

Description

How do children understand how others see the world? I examined correlations between 4-8 year old children's understanding of beliefs and their understanding of other ways that people represent the

How do children understand how others see the world? I examined correlations between 4-8 year old children's understanding of beliefs and their understanding of other ways that people represent the world. Beliefs that I measured are understanding of pretense, understanding that things can have multiple identities, understanding that people can know things by inference, and understanding that people can look at the same thing and have different representations of it. I predicted that there would be correlations among these tasks. In particular, I predicted children would be able to understand these tasks when they understood true and false beliefs, based on current theories on belief understanding. I predicted that the classic false belief task alone would not be a good predictor of task performance, but that the combination of true and false belief tasks would. Participants were 100 children recruited at the Phoenix Children's Museum between ages 4 and 8. Previous research has found that children pass all of these tasks between the ages of 6 and 8, but no other studies have looked at the inter-correlations among them. Contrary to my prediction, children did not pass these tasks all at once, but scores went up gradually with age and belief understanding.

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  • 2016-12

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Introspection and Certainty Training in Preschool Children

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This study assessed preschool children's (N= 52) ability to introspect and monitor their own levels of certainty. After a book reading intervention, children reported that they were less certain of

This study assessed preschool children's (N= 52) ability to introspect and monitor their own levels of certainty. After a book reading intervention, children reported that they were less certain of answer choices in a picture identification game. School differences showed that some groups of children reported improved levels of certainty monitoring, while other groups of children reported scores dissimilar to those predicted. This indicated that children who were immersed in rich learning environments, where strict curriculum and emotion understanding training were enforced, could be predisposed to this type of certainty understanding.

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Date Created
  • 2018-12

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Testing for “Hyper Theory of Mind” in Autism: Honors Thesis

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In this thesis I will explore deficits in Theory of Mind (ToM) in autistic people due to new evidence that they do not completely lack a ToM. A new theory

In this thesis I will explore deficits in Theory of Mind (ToM) in autistic people due to new evidence that they do not completely lack a ToM. A new theory is proposed, claiming that autistic people use a Hyper Theory of Mind (HyperToM) which has some application and processing differences from typical ToM. The HyperToM test will be administered as an online questionnaire that includes a self-reported Autism Quotient (AQ) section. The study is done in low support needs autistic (LSA) adults, which should have a developed ToM due to age and ability. Results showed some correlations with the AQ symptoms and HyperToM, but not enough diagnosed autistic people (9) participated in this study for significant results.

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Date Created
  • 2021-05

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Identifying with Fictional Characters

Description

The study of literature, which has traditionally been the work of the humanities, has seemingly opened up to biology in recent years through an infusion of cognitive science and evolutionary

The study of literature, which has traditionally been the work of the humanities, has seemingly opened up to biology in recent years through an infusion of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. This essay examines two perspectives on the potential for reader/character identification, one perspective from cognitive/evolutionary studies, and the other from the humanities. Building on both perspectives, I propose my own notion of reader/character identification called immersive identification. I argue that fiction is especially suited to prompt readers to identify with fictional characters in an immersive way. Then, I demonstrate how different cognitive/evolutionary perspectives of fiction can accommodate my notion of immersive identification. Finally, I defend my account of immersive identification against a counterexample.

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Date Created
  • 2014-05

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Sum sed cogitone? Can children introspect their mental states?

Description

Introspective awareness refers to direct access to one’s own internal and subjective thoughts and feelings (Wimmer & Hartl, 1991). Two theories, simulation theory and theory-theory, have been used to understand

Introspective awareness refers to direct access to one’s own internal and subjective thoughts and feelings (Wimmer & Hartl, 1991). Two theories, simulation theory and theory-theory, have been used to understand our access to our mental states. Simulation theory (Harris, 1991) involves imagining yourself in another person’s situation, reading off of your mental state, and attributing that state to the other person. Theory-theory (Gopnik, 1993) involves an interrelated body of knowledge, based on core mental-state constructs, including beliefs and desires, that may be applied to everyone—self and others (Gopnik & Wellman, 1994). Introspection is taken for granted by simulation theory, and explicitly denied by theory-theory. This study is designed to test for evidence of introspection in young children using simple perception and knowledge task. The current evidence is against introspective awareness in children because the data suggest that children cannot report their own false beliefs and they cannot report their on-going thoughts (Flavell, Green & Flavell, 1993; Gopnik & Astington, 1988). The hypothesis in this study states that children will perform better on Self tasks compared to Other tasks, which will be evidence for introspection. The Other-Perception tasks require children to calculate the other’s line of sight and determine if there is something obscuring his or her vision. The Other-Knowledge tasks require children to reason that the other’s previous looking inside a box means that he or she will know what is inside the box when it is closed. The corresponding Self tasks could be answered either by using the same reasoning for the self or by introspection to determine what it is they see and do not see, and know and do not know. Children performing better on Self tasks compared to Other tasks will be an indication of introspection. Tests included Yes/No and Forced Choice questions, which was initially to ensure that the results will not be caused by a feature of a single method of questioning. I realized belatedly, however, that Forced Choice was not a valid measure of introspection as children could introspect in both the Self and Other conditions. I also expect to replicate previous findings that reasoning about Perception is easier for children than reasoning about Knowledge.

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  • 2013-12

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Lack of Construct Validity in Traditional False Belief Tasks

Description

Two tasks have been predominantly used over the past thirty years to measure false belief understanding: the Location Task and the Typical Box task. These tasks have produced robust findings

Two tasks have been predominantly used over the past thirty years to measure false belief understanding: the Location Task and the Typical Box task. These tasks have produced robust findings that children fail false belief tasks at age 3 and pass false belief tasks at age 4. Recent theory, however, points out a shared confound in the 2-option Location and Typical Box tasks. This confound would allow children to perform successfully on the standard false belief tasks without understanding belief. Instead, children might be using perceptual access reasoning and reason that ignorant agents will "get it wrong" and be incorrect about reality. Modified 3-option tasks were used to address this confound by introducing a third, irrelevant option to the 2-option tasks. According to PAR, children who pass 2-option tasks should perform worse on the 3-option tasks because there are two "wrong" answers. We argue that subtle differences in salience between the false belief and irrelevant options in combination with one open-ended test question can draw children who use PAR toward one or the other in unpredictable ways. To demonstrate that other procedures will give more salience to the irrelevant options several studies are needed, each with minor variations in procedure that do not alter the basic false belief structure. Thus in five studies we varied superficial characteristics across tasks in order to test for a task effect across studies. We used the "continuously cumulating meta-analysis" (CCMA) approach, combining each replication study into a broader analysis (final N=113) for higher power. Our CCMA analyses provide strong support for the PAR hypothesis because 1) children performed worse on the 3-option tasks than the 2-option tasks, 2) children's proportion of false belief responses out of non-reality responses did not replicate across studies, 3) children's proportion of reality responses replicated across studies, and 4) the Location task was easier than the Box tasks across studies. These findings suggest that there is a lack of construct validity in traditional false belief tasks; thus, new methods of testing for false belief understanding are needed to determine at what point children acquire Theory of Mind.

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Date Created
  • 2014-05

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Social Cognition in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Sex Differences and Aging Correlates

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Background: In the United States, approximately 50,000 teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) age into adulthood every year (Shattuck et al., 2012). A hallmark symptom of ASD includes pronounced difficulties

Background: In the United States, approximately 50,000 teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) age into adulthood every year (Shattuck et al., 2012). A hallmark symptom of ASD includes pronounced difficulties in social interactions and verbal and nonverbal communication (Lai, Lombardo, & Baron-Cohen, 2014). These social cognition difficulties consist of difficulties interpreting social cues, employing appropriate adaptive behavioral responses in various social contexts, as well as the ability to interpret emotions and mental states of others, known as theory of mind (TOM; Premack & Woodruff, 1978). In neurotypical (NT) adults, women perform better on social cognition tasks and difficulties become more prevalent with age, however little is known how sex differences and aging may impact social cognition in adults with ASD (Carstensen, Fung, & Charles 2003).

Objective: This research intended to characterize the influence of sex and age on social cognition in adults with ASD using an adult sample. We hypothesized Reading the Mind in the Eyes (RME) scores would be lower in adults with ASD, with a stronger relationship between decreasing performance aging effects compared to NTs. Additionally, we hypothesized deficits would be more severe in in males with ASD compared to females with ASD.

Methods: The RME task was administered to 181 adults to quantify ToM abilities. The participants consisted of 100 adults with ASD (69 males, 32 females; age range: 18-71, mean=39.45±1.613) and matched 81 NT adults (47 males, 34 females; age range: 18-70, mean=41.51±1.883). Multiple regression analyses examined interactions between diagnosis and age, diagnosis and sex, and diagnosis by age by sex. Exploratory within group analyses assessed 1) sex differences using ANCOVA, and 2) associations with age using Pearson correlation in SPSS.

Results: We found that NT adults performed better on the RME task than adults with ASD. Worse performance on the RME task correlated with greater age for the NT, but not ASD. Additionally, no influence of sex on RME scores was identified.

Discussion: These results are consistent with other studies indicate social cognition deficits in adults with ASD compared to NT adults. Additionally, we replicated findings that suggest ToM performance declines with age in NT adults. Fewer social relationships, smaller social networks, and reduced social engagement have been associated with aging in both NTs and individuals with ASD (Pratt & Norris, 1994). However, our cross-sectional sample suggests ToM abilities may not decline with age in adults with ASD as hypothesized. Longitudinal studies are needed to corroborate these findings. Further developments in this line of research may inform novel interventions tailored toward the growing population of adults with ASD. Ultimately, our research aims to improve quality of life across the lifespan for an already vulnerable population.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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The role of introspection in children's developing theory of mind

Description

Understanding sources of knowledge (e.g., seeing leads to knowing) is an important ability in young children’s theory of mind development. The research presented here measured if children were better at

Understanding sources of knowledge (e.g., seeing leads to knowing) is an important ability in young children’s theory of mind development. The research presented here measured if children were better at reporting their own versus another person’s knowledge states, which would indicate the presence of introspection. Children had to report when the person (self or other) had knowledge or ignorance after looking into one box and not looking into another box. In Study 1 (N = 66), 3- and 4-year-olds found the other-version of the task harder than the self-version whereas 5-year-olds performed near ceiling on both versions. This effect replicated in Study 2 (N = 43), which included familiarization trials to make sure children understood the question format. This finding is in support of the presence of introspection in preschool-aged children. In the same studies, children also showed evidence for theorizing about their own and others knowledge states in a guessing task (Study 1) and in true and false belief tasks (Study 2). These findings together indicate both introspection and theorizing are present during young children's theory of mind development.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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The Role of Mental State Language on Young Children's Introspective Ability

Description

A cornerstone of children’s socio-cognitive development is understanding that others can have knowledge, thoughts, and perceptions that differ from one’s own. Preschool-aged children often have difficulty with this kind of

A cornerstone of children’s socio-cognitive development is understanding that others can have knowledge, thoughts, and perceptions that differ from one’s own. Preschool-aged children often have difficulty with this kind of social understanding, i.e., they lack an explicit theory of mind. The goal of this dissertation was to examine the role mental state language as a developmental mechanism of children’s early understanding of their own mental states (i.e., their introspective ability). Specifically, it was hypothesized that (1) parents’ ability to recognize and appropriately label their children’s mental states and (2) children’s linguistic ability to distinguish between their mental states shapes the development of children’s introspective ability. An initial prediction of the first hypothesis is that parents should recognized differences in the development of children’s self- and other-understanding in order to better help their children’s introspective development. In support of this prediction, parents (N = 400, Mage = 58 months, Range = 28-93 months) reported that children’s understanding of their own knowledge was greater than children’s understanding of others’ knowledge. A prediction of the second hypothesis is that children’s linguistic ability to distinguish between and appropriately label their own mental states should determine their ability to make fined grained judgments of mental states like certainty. In support of this prediction, children’s (N = 197, Mage = 56 months, Range = 36-82 months) ability to distinguish between their own knowledge and ignorance states was associated children’s ability to engage in uncertainty monitoring. Together, these findings provide support for the association between children’s linguistic environment and ability and their introspective development.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Relations in the development of social cognition

Description

The relations between aspects of social understanding (e.g., theory of mind, ToM, and emotion understanding, EU) were studied in relation to language and effortful control (EC). Data were collected when

The relations between aspects of social understanding (e.g., theory of mind, ToM, and emotion understanding, EU) were studied in relation to language and effortful control (EC). Data were collected when children were 30, 42, and 54 months of age (N's = 216, 192, and 168 for T1, T2, and T3, respectively). Children were assessed via mother and caregiver reports, and through observational measures. Although language and ToM did not relate within time, there was limited support for early language positively predicting later ToM. Language and EU were positively related within time, and there was some support for early language positively predicting later EU. Unexpectedly, significant positive relations were found for early EU predicting later language. ToM and EC were positively related within T3, and there was some support for early EC predicting later ToM. EU and EC were often positively related within time. Early EU also tended to positively predict later EC, whereas the opposite relation was not found. There was no support for significant a significant relation between EU and ToM. Findings suggest that children's early language may lead to later EC, and that early EU may help promote later EC and language; thus, it is important for parents and teachers to promote these early skills.

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Date Created
  • 2011