Pattern of acquisition of theory of mind in pre-schoolers: A cross-sectional study from South India

Rashmi Vishwanath, Avinash G. Kamath, Nitha Thomas, Vasudev Guddattu, Samir Kumar Praharaj

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Background: Theory of Mind (ToM) is an important part of children's social cognitive development. The pattern of ToM acquisition depends on many factors including culture, the number of family members, and siblings. This study aimed to examine the pattern of ToM acquisition in Indian culture. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among preschool children (three to six years) (N = 118) from rural and urban backgrounds. ToM development was assessed using the Wellman and Liu Theory of Mind Scale and the Children's Social Understanding Scale (parent report). Results: The order of acquisition of ToM in Indian children was as follows: diverse desire> diverse belief> knowledge access> explicit false belief> content false belief> hidden emotion. The number of siblings positively correlated with the total ToM task score, and the number of adults in the family did not show any positive correlation. Conclusions: Although India is a collectivistic country, the acquisition pattern of ToM in our population was like that of individualistic countries such as the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103443
JournalAsian Journal of Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 03-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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