Theory of Mind Development in Context is the first book of its kind to explore how children’s environments shape their theory of mind and, in turn, their ability to interact effectively with others. Based on world-leading research, and inspired by the ground-breaking work of Candida Peterson, the original collected chapters demonstrate that children’s understanding of other people is shaped by their everyday environment. Specifically, the chapters illustrate how theory of mind development varies with broad cultural context, socioeconomic status, institutional versus home rearing, family size, parental communication style, and aspects of schooling. The volume also features research showing that, by virtue of their condition, children who are deaf or who have an autism spectrum disorder function in environments that differ from those of typical children and this in turn influences their theory of mind.
Although much important research has emphasized the role of nature in theory of mind development, this book highlights that children’s understanding of other people is nurtured through their everyday experiences and interactions. This perspective is essential for students, researchers, and practitioners to gain a complete understanding of how this fundamental skill develops in humans. The book is invaluable for academic researchers and advanced students in developmental psychology, education, social psychology, cognitive psychology, and the social sciences, as well as practicing psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists, particularly those who deal with disorders involving social and/or communicative deficits.
Introduction: How should we conceptualise contextual influences on young children’s Theory of Mind development? Marc de Rosnay 1. Learning a Theory of Mind Henry Wellman Section 1: Social Contexts for Development 2. Culture and the sequence of developmental milestones toward theory of mind mastery Candida C. Peterson & Virginia Slaughter 3. Family Influences on Theory of Mind: A Review Claire Hughes & Rory T. Devine 4. Why Montessori is a Facilitative Environment for Theory of Mind: Three Speculations Angeline S. Lillard & Sierra Eisen 5. Behaviour to Beliefs Ted Ruffman & Mele Taumoepeau Section 2: Atypical Developmental Contexts 6. The Role of Institutionalization in Theory of Mind Bilge Selcuk & N. Meltem Yucel 7. The empathic mind in children with communication impairments: The case of children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH); children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); and children with Specific Language Impairments (SLI) Carolien Rieffe, Evelien Dirks, Wendy van Vlerken & Guida Veiga 8. Environment and language experience in deaf children’s theory of mind development Gary Morgan, Marek Meristo & Erland Hjelmquist 9. Mindreading as a transactional process: Insights from autism Peter Mitchell
'The chapters of this book, a major tribute to the work of Candi Peterson, build on her groundbreaking work with deaf children in two important ways. They chart the acquisition of mental state understanding by several groups of atypically developing children – deaf children, to be sure, but also children with special language impairment and children with autism. The chapters also examine the impact of various parameters of socialization on the pattern of acquisition, ranging from more distal environmental factors such as cultural beliefs, SES, family size and type of schooling to more proximal factors such as conversational input and moment-to-moment interchanges within the child’s home. For readers who have moved beyond the idea of an innate theory-of-mind module, this volume provides a feast of engaging material.' - Paul L. Harris, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Education, Harvard University, USA
"This timely and up-to-date volume pulls together major lines of recent research showing that there is not a universal child developing a theory of mind in isolation, stripped of family, peers, and culture. Rather, development always is within particular contexts, and different child characteristics in interaction with context can lead to different developmental pathways. This major contribution is enriched by the perspectives of an international set of major researchers, from eight countries. The book is an excellent resource for researchers, practitioners, and students." - Patricia H. Miller, San Francisco State University, USA
"This edited text provides a state of the art review on theory of mind development and identifies some of the most promising theories in the field. In recognition of the influential work of Candida Peterson, this dazzling collection is jam-packed with the latest research and debates on the crucial role of everyday context on theory of mind development in both typical and atypical children. Each of the authors has contributed an original essay for the volume. Theory of Mind in Context is both timely and important and is a must-read for any serious student of cognitive development." - Diane Poulin Dubois, Professor of Psychology, Concordia University, Montréal, Canada