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Journal Article


Imuta K, Henry JD, Slaughter V, Selcuk B, Ruffman T. Dev. Psychol. 2016; 52(8): 1192-1205.


(Copyright © 2016, American Psychological Association)






It has been argued that children who possess an advanced theory of mind (ToM) are more likely to act prosocially, yet the empirical findings are mixed. To address this issue definitively, a meta-analytic integration of all prior literature that met appropriate inclusion criteria was conducted. In total, 76 studies including 6,432 children between 2 and 12 years of age contributed to these analyses. Collapsed across all studies, a significant association emerged (r =.19), indicating that children with higher ToM scores also received higher scores on concurrent measures of prosocial behavior. The magnitude of this effect was similar across ToM assessments requiring identification of others' cognitions versus emotions, and it existed irrespective of whether the ToM measure imposed demands on false belief reasoning or not. The association with ToM was also evident for different subtypes of prosocial behavior (helping, cooperating, comforting). ToM had a similar effect for boys and girls, but was slightly stronger in children aged 6 years or older, relative to their younger peers. Taken together, these findings provide the strongest evidence to date that being able to explicitly consider what other people are thinking and feeling is related to children's tendencies to act prosocially, although the magnitude of the association is relatively weak. (PsycINFO Database Record

(c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved).

Language: en


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