Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Theory of mind concepts in children's literature


This study examined whether books that are typically read to preschool children contain theory of mind concepts. The parents of 47 preschool children recorded books read by or to their child over a one-week period. The books were analyzed for theory of mind content. It was found that 78% of the books contained internal state language, 34% contained false beliefs, and 43% contained personality descriptors. Thus, theory of mind concepts appear to be an integral part of the literature read to preschool children. These results are discussed in light of recent work on individual differences in theory of mind development.

Corresponding author
Department of Psychology, Bryn Mawr College, 101 North Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Dunn , J. Brown , C. Slomkowski , C. Tesla , & L. Youngblade (1991). Young children's understanding of other people's feelings and beliefs: Individual differences and their antecedents. Child Development, 62. 13521366.

J. M. Jenkins , & J. W. Astington (1996). Cognitive factors and family structure associated withtheory of mind development in young children. Developmental Psychology, 32, 7078.

C. Lewis , N. H. Freeman , C. Kyriakidou , K. Maridaki-Kassotaki , & D. M. Berridge (1997). Social influences on false belief access: Specific sibling influences or general apprenticeship. Child Development, 67, 29302947.

C. C. Peterson , & M. Siegal (1995). Deafness, conversation and theory of mind. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35. 459474.

L. M. Youngblade , & J. Dunn (1995). Individual differences in young children's pretend play with mother and sibling: Links to relationships and understanding of other people's feelings and beliefs. Child Development, 66, 14721492.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
  • URL: /core/journals/applied-psycholinguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 210 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 613 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.