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The multifactorial nature of theory of mind: A structural modelling study. Larry Cashion Rachel Dryer Michael Kiernan. School of Social Sciences & Liberal Studies Charles Sturt University Bathurst NSW Australia.

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the multifactorial nature of theory of mind a structural modelling study

The multifactorial nature of theory of mind:A structural modelling study

Larry Cashion

Rachel Dryer

Michael Kiernan

School of Social Sciences & Liberal Studies

Charles Sturt University

Bathurst NSW Australia

Presented at the 14th Australasian Human Development Association Biennial Conference

Perth Western Australia

July 2005

slide2

Presentation Plan

  • Theory of Mind and Classification
  • Current research study method
  • Age, gender, and the multifactorial nature of theory of mind
  • Conclusions and implications
theory of mind
Theory of Mind
  • The ability to attribute mental states, such as thoughts, beliefs, intentions, desires, and feelings, to others and oneself
  • The ability to perform social and laboratory tasks requiring theory of mind has also been called mentalising and mindreading
classification in theory of mind
Classification in Theory of Mind
  • First-order theory of mind
  • Second-order theory of mind
  • Higher-order or advanced theory of mind
first order theory of mind
First-Order Theory of Mind
  • Unexpected locations
      • “Where will X look for the object?”
  • Unexpected contents
      • “What does X think is in the box?”
  • Appearance-reality
      • “What is this object really?”
slide6

Second-Order Theory of Mind

  • Ice-Cream Van
      • “Where will X look for Y?”
  • Unexpected locations
      • “Where does Y think X will look for the object?”
slide7

Higher-Order Theory of Mind

  • Understanding mental states in motivating actions
      • “Does X mean what she says?”
      • “Why did Y do that?”
  • Reading complex mental states
      • “What is X thinking or feeling?”
slide8

Theory of Mind Modularity

  • Theory of Mind Module (ToMM)
      • Leslie (1987; Leslie & Roth, 1993)
      • ToMM neurologically separate from other cognitive and brain systems
  • Minimalist modularity
      • Baron-Cohen (1999)
      • Sub-modules of eye direction detection, intentionality detector, shared attention mechanism
slide9

False belief & Theory of Mind

  • False belief unrepresentative of theory of mind in general
      • Bloom & German (2000)
  • False belief as a highly complex cognitive function
      • Bloom & German (2000)
slide10

Competing Theory of Mind Models

  • 3-factors
      • 1st-, 2nd- & higher-order ToM
      • Common use in literature
  • 2-factors
      • False belief tasks & other tasks
      • Bloom & German
  • 1-factor
      • Theory of mind module
      • Leslie
slide11

Method I

  • Participants
      • 216 school-aged children
      • Recruited from State Schools in NSW & Victoria
      • Years 1, 3, and 5
      • Screened using a modified version of the Social Communication Profile (Coggins & Olswang, 2001)
      • 2 children eliminated from sample prior to testing
      • No adverse incidents
      • Ethics approval from CSU, and NSW & Victorian Departments of Education
slide12

Method II

  • First-order tests
      • Sally-Anne Task (unexpected locations)
      • Smarties Task (unexpected contents)
  • Second-order tests
      • Ice-Cream Van Task
      • Second-Order Sally-Anne Task
  • Higher-order tests
      • Strange Stories Test
      • Faux Pas Test
      • Eyes Test – Children’s Version
slide13

Methodological Issues

  • Memory prompts
      • No memory prompts or hints were provided to participants
  • Justification questions
      • Often absent from previous first- and second-order ToM research
      • Makes lower-order tasks more consistent with higher-order tasks
      • Ensures understanding, not just recognition
slide14

Hypotheses

  • Significant group differences
      • Older children will perform better than younger children
  • Significant gender differences
      • Females superior to males
  • 3-factor model superior
      • Better fit than 1- and 2-factor models
slide15

Data Analysis

  • Categorical data
      • Chi-square (χ2)
  • Continuous data
      • ANOVA + Tukey HSD
  • Structural Modelling
      • Mplus confirmatory factor analysis
slide16

Results I

Task Year 1 Year 3 Year 5

Sally-Anne

Interpretation 72.9 90.1 89.3

Justification 65.7 83.1 89.3

Smarties

Interpretation 87.1 94.4 100.0

Justification 71.4 87.3 98.7

Ice-Cream Van

Interpretation 27.9 42.3 52.0

Justification 17.6 38.0 50.7

Sally-Anne 2nd-Order

Interpretation 69.6 81.7 96.0

Justification 31.9 57.7 85.3

slide17

Results II

Task Year 1 Year 3 Year 5

Strange Stories (/8)

Interpretation 4.70 5.25 6.05

Justification 2.29 3.25 4.09

Faux Pas (/10)

Total 5.55 7.11 8.29

Eyes Test (/28)

Total 15.02 16.90 18.77

slide18

Results III

No gender

differences for any task

slide19

Results IV

Model χ2p df CFI TLI WRMR

No correlated terms

3-factor 18.60 .069 11 0.975 0.951 .546

2-factor 23.42 .037 13 0.965 0.944 .634

1-factor 24.67 .038 14 0.946 0.946 .655

Sally-Anne Tasks correlated

3-factor 6.56 .766 10 1.000 1.024 .328

2-factor 20.60 .057 13 0.971 0.950 .593

1-factor 20.36 .087 13 0.975 0.960 .596

N = 216; all models use WLSM estimation & Santorra-Bentler scaled χ2

slide20

Smarties

e1

.88

1st Order ToM

.23

Sally-Anne

(1st-order)

e2

.59

.65

.34

.37

Sally-Anne

(2nd-order)

e3

.83

.32

2nd Order ToM

.76

Ice-Cream Van

e4

.48

.77

.81

.56

Strange Stories

e5

.66

Higher Order ToM

.58

Faux Pas

e6

.65

.71

.54

Eyes

e7

slide21

Summary of Results

  • Hypothesis 1 – age group differences supported
      • For all theory of mind tasks
  • Hypothesis 2 – gender differences not supported
      • For all theory of mind tasks
  • Hypothesis 3 – 3-factor model significant superiority supported
slide22

Implications I

  • Support for the multifactorial nature of theory of mind
      • Fits with current theory and use of ToM
  • Challenge to ‘male brain’ theory of Baron-Cohen
      • No gender differences detected
      • No interaction effects
      • Possible that gender effects were not evident because of prepubescent sample – but still fails to fit theory
slide23

Implications II

  • Challenge to current orthodoxy in theory of mind research
      • Assumptions of age – ability development of theory of mind were not supported
      • Knowledge that ‘something’ is going on is different from understanding what that ‘something’ is
      • Instruction sets and ‘memory prompts’ affect the ecological validity of ToM tasks and artificially inflate passing rates
slide24

Where Now?

  • Further examination of ‘memory prompts’ and instruction sets
  • Further research into the multifactorial nature of theory of mind using a larger array of tasks
  • Using the 3-factor model to examine the relationship with executive functioning
contact details
Contact Details

Larry Cashion

larry@cashion.net