Promoting theory of mind during middle childhood: A training program

Serena Lecce*, Federica Bianco, Rory Devine, Claire Hughes, Robin Banerjee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence that conversations about the mind foster improvements in theory of mind (ToM) is growing, but their efficacy in typically developing school-aged children has yet to be demonstrated. To address this gap, we designed a conversation-based training program for 9- and 10-year-olds and measured its effectiveness by pre- and post-test comparisons of performance on age-appropriate ToM tasks for two groups (matched at pre-test for gender, age, socioeconomic background, verbal ability, reading comprehension, executive functions, and ToM) who were assigned to either the intervention condition (. n=. 45) or an active control condition (. n=. 46). The intervention group showed significantly greater gains in ToM than the control group; this contrast was stable over 2. months, and (in a subsample) the improvement in ToM was independent of any changes in executive functions. Implications for the role of conversations about the mind in children's mental state reasoning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-67
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Early online date31 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • Conversational approach
  • Executive functions
  • Intervention
  • Maintenance
  • Middle childhood
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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