Observant, nonaggressive temperament predicts theory-of-mind development
Henry M. Wellman,1 Jonathan D. Lane,1 Jennifer LaBounty,2 and Sheryl L. Olson,,1
1. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, USA
2. Department of Psychology, Lewis and Clark College, USA
18 Jan 2010
Temperament dimensions influence children’s approach to and participation in social interactive experiences which reflect and impact children’s social understandings. Therefore, temperament differences might substantially impact theory-of-mind development in early childhood. Using longitudinal data, we report that certain early temperament characteristics (at age 3) – lack of aggressiveness, a shy-withdrawn stance to social interaction, and social-perceptual sensitivity – predict children’s more advanced theory-of-mind understanding 2 years later. The findings contribute to our understanding of how theory of mind develops in the formative preschool period; they may also inform debates as to the evolutionary origins of theory of mind.