Social maturity and theory of mind in typically developing children and those on the autism spectrum

  • Peterson C
  • Slaughter V
  • Paynter J
  • 48


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • N/A


    Citations of this article.


BACKGROUND: Results of several studies using the Vineland scale to explore links between social behavior and theory of mind (ToM) have produced mixed results, especially for children on the autism spectrum. The present pair of studies developed a psychometrically sound, age-referenced measure of social maturity to explore these issues further. METHOD: In Study 1, 37 typically developing preschoolers took a battery of standard false belief tests of ToM and were rated by their teachers on a newly developed age-referenced social maturity scale with 7 items. In Study 2, a further group of 43 children aged 4 to 12 years (13 with autism, 14 with Asperger's disorder and 16 with typical development) took part in the same procedure. RESULTS: In Study 1, ToM was found to predict typical preschoolers' social maturity independently of age and verbal maturity. In Study 2, children with autism scored below age-matched and younger typical developers in both ToM and social maturity. Those with Asperger's disorder did well on ToM but poorly on social maturity. Study 2 replicated Study 1's finding (for typical children and for the full sample) that ToM was linked with social maturity independently of age and verbal ability, although the link was not independent of autism diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS: Teachers are capable of rating children's social behavior with peers as advanced, on-time or delayed for their age. Suggestive links between these ratings and ToM require further investigation, especially among children on the autism spectrum.

Author-supplied keywords

  • *Child Development
  • *Emotions
  • *Social Change
  • *Social Perception
  • Age Factors
  • Asperger Syndrome/diagnosis/psychology
  • Autistic Disorder/*diagnosis/psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disord
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychological Theory
  • Psychometrics
  • Social Adjustment
  • Teaching
  • Visual Perception

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in


  • C C Peterson

  • V P Slaughter

  • J Paynter

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free