Two theories that attempt to explain the relationship between false belief understanding and inhibition skills were investigated: (1) theory of mind development improves self-control, and (2) executive control is necessary for developing a theory of mind. A microgenetic approach was adopted, with a group of 21 children completing a battery of inhibition and false belief understanding tasks every four weeks for six phases of testing. The results showed that the majority of children were able to perform well on a test of executive inhibition before having a good understanding of false beliefs, thus supporting theory (2). The results also illustrated that while the children's inhibition skills developed relatively gradually, their understanding of false beliefs progressed from a consistent lack of understanding through a period of unstable performance, during which some children failed tests that they had previously passed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience