Individual differences in executive functioning and theory of mind: An investigation of inhibitory control and planning ability

Stephanie M. Carlson, Louis J. Moses, Laura J. Claxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

385 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research examined the relative contributions of two aspects of executive function-inhibitory control and planning ability-to theory of mind in 49 3- and 4-year-olds. Children were given two standard theory of mind measures (Appearance-Reality and False Belief), three inhibitory control tasks (Bear/Dragon, Whisper, and Gift Delay), three planning tasks (Tower of Hanoi, Truck Loading, and Kitten Delivery), and a receptive vocabulary test (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test [PPVT-3]). Multiple regression analyses indicated that two inhibition tasks (Bear/Dragon and Whisper) were significantly related to theory of mind after accounting for age, receptive vocabulary, and planning. In contrast, the planning tasks did not share unique variance with theory of mind. These results increase our understanding of the specific nature of executive function-theory of mind relations during early childhood. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-319
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume87
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Executive function
  • Inhibition
  • Planning
  • Theory of mind

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