Skip to main content Accessibility help

The effects of bilingualism on theory of mind development

  • PEGGY J. GOETZ (a1)


This research examines whether an individual's linguistic knowledge, either as a speaker of a particular language or as a bilingual, influences theory of mind development. Three- and four-year-old English monolinguals, Mandarin Chinese monolinguals, and Mandarin-English bilinguals were given appearance-reality, level 2 perspective-taking, and false-belief tasks. All children were tested twice, a week apart; the bilinguals were tested in each of their languages. The 4-year-olds in each group performed significantly better than the corresponding 3-year-olds. Both monolingual groups performed similarly on the tasks, and the bilinguals performed significantly better than the monolingual groups, although when the two testing times were examined separately, they had only a near-significant tendency to perform better at the second testing time. Possible explanations for this evidence of a bilingual advantage are greater inhibitory control, greater metalinguistic understanding, and a greater sensitivity to sociolinguistic interactions with interlocutors.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence CAS Department, Calvin College, 3201 Burton Street, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49546-4388, USA. E-mail:


Hide All
This research is based in part on a dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. I wish to thank the members of my dissertation committee, Marilyn Shatz, Susan Gelman, Teresa Satterfield, and San Duanmu, for providing thoughtful input and encouragement. I am also grateful to my assistants, Hu Ping, Sheri Lee, and Wang Xiu Zhen. This research was supported by dissertation grants from the Linguistics Program, Psychology Department, and Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The effects of bilingualism on theory of mind development

  • PEGGY J. GOETZ (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

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

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.