The Connection Between Theory of Mind and Executive Functions in the Senior Preschool Age

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Abstract

This research is devoted to the study of the connection between executive functions and theory of mind in the older preschool age. Despite the active study of this field in foreign psychology, similar experimental studies in Russia are still relatively few, and very few of them are devoted to preschool age. It can be assumed that this situation is related, among other things, to the lack of a developed diagnostic tool aimed at studying the theory of mind. In this regard, the purpose of our investigation was to study the connection between the development of the theory of mind and the development of executive functions with the help of foreign methods of diagnosing these abilities adapted by us. The study involved 267 children aged 5–6 years (143 boys and 124 girls), pupils of the older groups of kindergartens in Moscow. The analysis of the obtained results showed the presence of significant connections between all three components of executive functions (working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibition) and the success of performing tasks on the theory of mind. Also, three types of development of executive functions in preschool children were identified, and differences in the success of individual tasks on the theory of mind in children belonging to different types were revealed. The results of the correlation and cluster analysis testify to the connection between the level of the child’s understanding of false beliefs and such components of cognitive control as inhibition and switching. Thus, the conducted research shows the connection between the theory of mind and cognitive regulation in the senior preschool age. Further study of cognitive abilities of preschool children will help to better understand and study the logic of development of such significant social skills as emotional regulation, building positive relationships with peers and successful behavior in the classroom.

General Information

Keywords: preschool age, executive functions, a theory of mind

Journal rubric: Applied Research and Practice

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Almazova O.V., Bukhalenkova D.A., Veraksa A.N., Yakupova V.A. The Connection Between Theory of Mind and Executive Functions in the Senior Preschool Age. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2018. Vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 293–311. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)

References

Sergiyenko E.A., Lebedeva E.I.Prusakova O.A. Model’ psikhicheskogo kak osnova stanovleniia ponimaniia sebia i drugogo v ontogeneze cheloveka [The theory of mind as the basis for the formation of understanding of oneself and others in human ontogeny]. Moscow, Institut psikhologii RAN Publ., 2009. 415 p. (In Russian)

Information About the Authors

Olga V. Almazova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Developmental Psychology Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8852-4076, e-mail: almaz.arg@gmail.com

Daria A. Bukhalenkova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Researcher, Laboratory of Child Psychology and Digital Socialization, Psychological Institute of Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4523-1051, e-mail: d.bukhalenkova@inbox.ru

Aleksandr N. Veraksa, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Head of the Department of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Vice-Director of Psychological Institute, Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7187-6080, e-mail: veraksa@yandex.ru

Vera A. Yakupova, PhD in Psychology, Researcher, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9472-8283, e-mail: vera.a.romanova@gmail.com

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