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Theory of mind in emerging reading comprehension: a longitudinal study of early indirect and direct effects

Atkinson, L., Slade, L., Powell, D. ORCID: and Levy, J. P. (2017) Theory of mind in emerging reading comprehension: a longitudinal study of early indirect and direct effects. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 164. pp. 225-238. ISSN 0022-0965

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.04.007


The relation between children’s theory of mind (ToM) and emerging reading comprehension was investigated in a longitudinal study over 2.5 years. 80 children were tested for ToM, decoding, language skills and executive function (EF) at Time 1 (mean age = 3:10 years). At Time 2 (mean age = 6:03 years) children's word reading efficiency, language skills and reading comprehension were measured. Mediation analysis showed that ToM at Time 1, when children were around four years old, indirectly predicted Time 2 reading comprehension, when children were six years old, via language ability, after controlling for age, non-verbal ability, decoding, EF and earlier language ability. Importantly, ToM at four years old also directly predicted reading comprehension two and a half years later at six years. This is the first longitudinal study to show a direct contribution of theory of mind to reading comprehension in typical development. Findings are discussed in terms of the Simple View of Reading (SVR); ToM not only supports reading comprehension indirectly by facilitating language, but also directly contributes to it over and above the SVR. The potential role of metacognition is considered when accounting for the direct contribution of early ToM to later reading comprehension.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:66668


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