Shahaeian, A., Peterson, C., Slaughter, V. & Wellman, H. (2011). Culture and the sequence of steps in theory of mind development. Developmental Psychology,47(5), 1239-1247. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023899
To examine cultural contrasts in the ordered sequence of conceptual developments leading to theory of mind (ToM), we compared 135 3- to 6-year-olds (77 Australians; 58 Iranians) on an established 5-step ToM scale (Wellman & Liu, 2004). There was a cross-cultural difference in the sequencing of ToM steps but not in overall rates of ToM mastery. In line with our predictions, the children from Iran conformed to a distinctive sequence previously observed only in children in China. In contrast to the case with children from Australia (and the United States), knowledge access was understood earlier than opinion diversity in children from Iran, consistent with this collectivist culture's emphasis on filial respect, dispute avoidance, and acquiring knowledge. Having a sibling was linked with faster overall ToM progress in Australia only and was not related to scale sequences in either culture.
Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education
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