ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2009, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (02): 135-143.

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Relations between Judgment of Others’ Memory and Theory of Mind in Preschoolers

LU Hui-Jing;SU Yan-Jie   

  1. Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2008-02-04 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2009-02-28 Online:2009-02-28
  • Contact: SU Yan-Jie

Abstract: Previous research has shown that talking about others in reminiscence facilitates the development of Theory of Mind (ToM) in 4-year-old Chinese preschoolers. The present study provides one potential interpretation for those findings by exploring the relations between ToM and judgment of other’s memory. We assume that children who have talked more about others during recall have represented more information regarding others. They should therefore perform better when judging other’s memory because they possess more knowledge about others. Processing views and situations related to others involves perspective-taking, which includes various levels of perspectives, such as perceptional (simple visual and complex visual) and cognitive (intentional and emotional) ones. In this study, different levels of perspective-taking were used to assess children’s representation and judgment of others’ memories, and the relations between ToM and memory judgment were examined.
Forty 4-year-old children completed a verbal productive task and four ToM tasks including two Mistaken Location tasks and two Content Change tasks. They also completed a series of memory tasks in which their memory ability and judgment of others’ memory were examined. In each task, participants first experienced a scenario; two days later they were required to recall the scenario and judge others’ views about the scenario. The views included others’ visual perception and perspectives on intention and emotion of the story characters. These views sometimes pertained to reality, but they were always not consistent with the participant’s own views.
Results showed that memory ability, judgment of others’ memory and ToM correlated with one another, and the judgment of others’ memory could still explain ToM when age, memory ability, and verbal ability were statistically controlled. Further examination showed that, in the case of others’ views not pertaining to reality, performance related to judging others’ memory was positively correlated with ToM scores once age, verbal abilities and memory ability had been statistically controlled. However, this correlation was absent in the case of others’ views pertaining to reality.
These results are discussed in relation to the ability to simultaneously process two different perspectives, which is required in both ToM tasks and memory judgment tasks. When judging others’ memory, participants should be aware of others’ views about a previously experienced scenario and distinguish others’ perspectives from the self’s perspective. Children who pass false belief tasks have to process the true belief by themselves and the false belief of others at the same time. The correlation between judging others’ memory and ToM helps to account for the findings that talking about others during reminiscence facilitates the development of ToM. The nature of first-order and second-order false belief tasks is used to discuss the minor finding that children’s performance on false belief tasks correlated with judgment of others’ memory only in the case of others’ views that do not pertain to reality

Key words: theory of mind, perspective taking, recollection, othe

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