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Brown, M. et al. (2017) Supporting the development of empathy: The role of theory of mind and fantasy orientation (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Theory of mind (ToM) and empathy are separate, but related components of social understanding. However, research has not clearly defined the distinctions between them. Similarly, related constructs, such as fantasy orientation (FO), are associated with better ToM understanding; however, little is known about how FO may provide a context in which both ToM and affective empathy develop. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 (N = 82) completed a battery of ToM, empathy, and FO measures. Results demonstrated a developmental progression from ToM to affective empathy: 3-year-olds were likely to have neither, 4-year-olds were likely to have ToM only, and 5-year-olds were likely to have both. Additionally, results indicated that FO predicted affective empathy above and beyond ToM ability, suggesting that children whose play is high in fantasy are more practiced than their peers in sharing emotions. These findings are discussed in terms of how children's propensity toward fantasy play may contribute to their social development.

Date:
January 2017
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
26
Page/s:
951-964
Synonyms:
  • Cross-sectional
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Leslie, A. (1987) Pretense and representation: The origins of "theory of mind." (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Presents a theoretical analysis of the representational mechanism underlying a child's ability to pretend. This mechanism extends the power of the infant's existing capacity for (primary) representation, creating a capacity for 'metarepresentation.' It is this, developing toward the end of infancy, that underlies the child's new abilities to pretend and to understand pretense in others. There is a striking isomorphism between the 3 fundamental forms of pretend play and 3 crucial logical properties of mental state expressions in language. This isomorphism points to a common underlying form of internal representation that is here called metarepresentation. A performance model, the 'decoupler,' is outlined embodying ideas about how an infant might compute the complex function postulated to underlie pretend play. This model also reveals pretense as an early manifestation of the ability to understand mental states. Aspects of later preschool development, both normal and abnormal, are discussed in the light of the new model.

Author/s:
Date:
January 1987
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
94
Page/s:
412-426
Synonyms:
  • Atypical development
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Functional play
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Lillard, A. (1993) Pretend Play Skills and the Child's Theory of Mind (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Pretend play has recently been of great interest to researchers studying children's understanding of the mind. One reason for this interest is that pretense seems to require many of the same skills as mental state understanding, and these skills seem to emerge precociously in pretense. Pretend play might be a zone of proximal development, an activity in which children operate at a cognitive level higher than they operate at in nonpretense situations. Alternatively, pretend play might be fool's gold, in that it might appear to be more sophisticated than it really is. This paper first discusses what pretend play is. It then investigates whether pretend play is an area of advanced understanding with reference to 3 skills that are implicated in both pretend play and a theory of mind: the ability to represent one object as two things at once, the ability to see one object as representing another, and the ability to represent mental representations.

Author/s:
Date:
January 1993
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
64
Page/s:
348-371
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Lillard, A. (2012) Preschool children's development in classic Montessori, supplemented Montessori, and conventional programs (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Research on the outcomes of Montessori education is scarce and results are inconsistent. One possible reason for the inconsistency is variations in Montessori implementation fidelity. To test whether outcomes vary according to implementation fidelity, we examined preschool children enrolled in high fidelity classic Montessori programs, lower fidelity Montessori programs that supplemented the program with conventional school activities, and, for comparison, conventional programs. Children were tested at the start and end of the school year on a range of social and academic skills. Although they performed no better in the fall, children in Classic Montessori programs, as compared with children in Supplemented Montessori and Conventional programs, showed significantly greater school-year gains on outcome measures of executive function, reading, math, vocabulary, and social problem-solving, suggesting that high fidelity Montessori implementation is associated with better outcomes than lower fidelity Montessori programs or conventional programs.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2012
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
50
Page/s:
379-401
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pre-academic skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
  • Executive function
Relevant age group/s:

Taylor, M. et al. (1997) The Relation between Individual Differences in Fantasy and Theory of Mind (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The relation between early fantasy/pretense and children's knowledge about mental life was examined in a study of 152 3- and 4-year-old boys and girls. Children were interviewed about their fantasy lives (e. g., imaginary companions, impersonation of imagined characters) and were given tasks assessing their level of pretend play and verbal intelligence. In a second session 1 week later, children were given a series of theory of mind tasks, including measures of appearance-reality, false belief, representational change, and perspective taking. The theory of mind tasks were significantly intercorrelated with the effects of verbal intelligence and age statistically controlled. Individual differences in fantasy/pretense were assessed by (1) identifying children who created imaginary characters, and (2) extracting factor scores from a combination of interview and behavioral measures. Each of these fantasy assessments was significantly related to the theory of mind performance of the 4-year-old children, independent of verbal intelligence.

Date:
January 1997
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
68
Page/s:
436-455
Synonyms:
  • Correlational
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: