• A Longitudinal Study of Theory of Mind and Listening Comprehension: Is preschool Theory of Mind Important?

      Jackson, Sophie; Slade, Lance; Levy, Joseph; Samantha, McCormick; University of Roehampton; Canterbury Christ Church University; Royal Holloway University of London; University of Derby (Elsevier, 2022-02-12)
      Theory of mind has been shown to be important for listening comprehension for children at a range of ages. However, there is a lack of longitudinal evidence for a relationship between early theory of mind and later listening comprehension. The aim of this study was to examine whether preschool theory of mind has a longitudinal direct effect on later listening comprehension over and above the effects of concurrent theory of mind. A total of 147 children were tested on measures of theory of mind, working memory, vocabulary, and grammatical knowledge at Time 1 (mean age = 4;1 [years;months]) and Time 2 (mean age = 5;11). In addition, at Time 2 listening comprehension, comprehension monitoring, and inference making measures were taken. Data were fitted to concurrent and longitudinal models of listening comprehension. Concurrent findings at Time 2 showed theory of mind to have a direct effect on listening comprehension. However, longitudinal findings showed that earlier theory of mind in preschool (Time 1) did not have a direct effect on listening comprehension 22 months later; instead, there was only an indirect effect of earlier theory of mind on later listening comprehension via concurrent theory of mind (Time 2). Taken together, the results give further support for the importance of theory of mind for listening comprehension but show that there are limited additional benefits of early theory of mind acquisition. Implications for the development of children’s listening comprehension are discussed.