The curious relation between theory of mind and sharing in preschool age children

Jason M. Cowell, Anya Samek, John List, Jean Decety

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Young children have long been known to act selfishly and gradually appear to become more generous across middle childhood. While this apparent change has been well documented, the underlying mechanisms supporting this remain unclear. The current study examined the role of early theory of mind and executive functioning in facilitating sharing in a large sample (N = 98) of preschoolers. Results reveal a curious relation between early false-belief understanding and sharing behavior. Contrary to many commonsense notions and predominant theories, competence in this ability is actually related to less sharing. Thus, the relation between developing theory of mind and sharing may not be as straightforward as it seems in preschool age children. It is precisely the children who can engage in theory of mind that decide to share less with others.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0117947
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes

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