International Education Research

International Education Research

ISSN: 2291-5273 (Print)    ISSN: 2291-5281 (Online)

Volume 2 (2014), No. 3, Pages 41-52

DOI: 10.12735/ier.v2i3p41

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Theory-of-Mind Development in Brazilian Low-Income Children

Maria Auxiliadora Dessen1  Debora de Hollanda Souza2 

1Universidade de Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil
2Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Sao Carlos, Brazil

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Despite all advances of theory-of-mind research in recent years, our current understanding of this phenomenon in children from different socioeconomic backgrounds living in developing countries is still limited. The present study aimed to investigate the developmental pattern toward theory-of-mind in 121 Brazilian preschool children (3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds) from low SES working-class families. Participants were administered three tasks assessing different aspects of theory of mind: adapted versions of a verbal and a non-verbal false belief tasks, the Luria hand-game, and the Deceptive Box game. Children from all three-age groups succeeded in the test of inhibitory control (the Luria hand-game). In the unexpected false belief task, the majority of 4-year-old children (65.9 %) passed the non-verbal test and the second verbal test (72.7%); however, in the Deceptive box task, only half of 5-year-old children gave correct responses to both types of question (52.8% to self- and 50% to other-attribution questions). These results suggest a possible difference in the developmental sequence toward theory-of-mind in Brazilian low-income children that needs to be further investigated. Future cross-cultural studies should be particularly attentive to the characteristics of children’s family environments, in particular, family context and functioning when investigating social cognitive development in poor children.

Keywords: cross-cultural research, poor children, preschool age, social class, theory of mind

To Cite this Article: Dessen, M. A., & de Hollanda Souza, D. (2014). Theory-of-mind development in Brazilian low-income children. International Education Research, 2(3), 41-52.

Copyright © Maria Auxiliadora Dessen & Debora de Hollanda Souza

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This article is published under license to Science and Education Centre of North America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Theory-of-Mind Development in Brazilian Low-Income Children