Maltreatment and advanced theory of mind development in school-aged children

O'Reilly, Jessica and Peterson, Candida C. (2014) Maltreatment and advanced theory of mind development in school-aged children. Journal of Family Violence, 30 1: 93-102. doi:10.1007/s10896-014-9647-9

Author O'Reilly, Jessica
Peterson, Candida C.
Title Maltreatment and advanced theory of mind development in school-aged children
Journal name Journal of Family Violence   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0885-7482
Publication date 2014-12-16
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10896-014-9647-9
Open Access Status
Volume 30
Issue 1
Start page 93
End page 102
Total pages 10
Place of publication New York NY United States
Publisher Springer New York
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract Theory of mind (ToM), the understanding of people’s beliefs and states of mind underpins effective communication and social relationships throughout life. Plausibly, the experience of being maltreated could delay the child’s development of ToM. However empirical evidence for this is scanty, especially in children age five and over. The present study aimed to fill this void. 105 Australian children were tested on first- and second-order false belief tests and a developmentally-sequenced ToM Scale. Of this sample, 52 children had experienced maltreatment and were receiving therapy and 53 children were matched nonclinic controls. As predicted, controls outperformed the maltreated on first-order changed-locations, misleading container false belief tests, and on an advanced belief-emotion test. Furthermore, maltreatment severity was an independent negative predictor of ToM understanding after controlling other variables. Findings reveal the persistence of problems in understanding others’ minds for maltreated children with implications both for social cognition and for applied interventions.
Keyword Family violence
False belief understanding
Harsh parenting
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 16 Dec 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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