The cognitive demands of remembering a speaker's perspective and managing common ground size modulate 8- and 10-year-olds' perspective-taking abilities

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Using "theory of mind" to successfully accommodate differing perspectives during communication requires much more than just acquiring basic theory of mind understanding. Evidence suggests that children's ability to adopt a speaker's perspective continues to develop throughout childhood to adolescence until adulthood. The current study examined the cognitive factors that could account for variations in children's abilities to use a speaker's perspective during language comprehension and whether the same factors contribute to age-related improvements. Our study incorporated into a commonly used communication task two types of memory demands that are frequently present in our everyday communication but have been overlooked in the previous literature: remembering a speaker's perspective and the amount of common ground information. Findings from two experiments demonstrated that both 8- and 10-year-olds committed more egocentric errors when each of these memory demands was high. Our study also found some supporting evidence for the age-related improvement in children's perspective use, with 10-year-olds generally committing fewer egocentric errors compared with 8-year-olds. Interestingly, there was no clear evidence that the memory factors that affected children's perspective use in our experiments were also the factors that drove age-related improvement.

Bibliographic note

Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-149
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Early online date22 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • common ground, theory of mind, perspective taking, cognitive factors, age-related development;, referential communication