Family correlates of false belief understanding in early childhood: A meta-analysis

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  • University of Cambridge


This meta-analysis seeks to integrate findings from 25 years of research on family correlates of young children's false belief understanding (FBU). Using data from 93 studies of 3- to 7-year-old children, we examined the correlations between FBU and four of the most widely studied family factors: parental socioeconomic status, number of siblings, parental mental-state talk, and mind-mindedness. FBU exhibited modest associations with each family variable and these associations held even when individual differences in verbal ability were taken into account. Moderator analyses revealed key child-related factors (e.g., age, gender) as well as methodological factors that amplified or attenuated the relations between FBU and each family variable. Crucially, available longitudinal data highlight the importance of family factors in the development of FBU.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-987
JournalChild Development
Issue number3
Early online date24 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2018