Validity and Reliability of Published Comprehensive Theory of Mind Tests for Normal Preschool Children: A Systematic Review
Objective: Theory of mind (ToM) or mindreading is an aspect of social cognition that evaluates mental states and beliefs of oneself and others. Validity and reliability are very important criteria when evaluating standard tests; and without them, these tests are not usable. The aim of this study was to systematically review the validity and reliability of published English comprehensive ToM tests developed for normal preschool children.
Method: We searched MEDLINE (PubMed interface), Web of Science, Science direct, PsycINFO, and also evidence base Medicine (The Cochrane Library) databases from 1990 to June 2015. Search strategy was Latin transcription of ‘Theory of Mind’ AND test AND children. Also, we manually studied the reference lists of all final searched articles and carried out a search of their references. Inclusion criteria were as follows: Valid and reliable diagnostic ToM tests published from 1990 to June 2015 for normal preschool children; and exclusion criteria were as follows: the studies that only used ToM tests and single tasks (false belief tasks) for ToM assessment and/or had no description about structure, validity or reliability of their tests. Methodological quality of the selected articles was assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP).
Result: In primary searching, we found 1237 articles in total databases. After removing duplicates and applying all inclusion and exclusion criteria, we selected 11 tests for this systematic review.
Conclusion: There were a few valid, reliable and comprehensive ToM tests for normal preschool children. However, we had limitations concerning the included articles. The defined ToM tests were different in populations, tasks, mode of presentations, scoring, mode of responses, times and other variables. Also, they had various validities and reliabilities. Therefore, it is recommended that the researchers and clinicians select the ToM tests according to their psychometric characteristics, validity and reliability.
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