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.
Lind SE, Bowler DM. Language and Theory of Mind in Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Relationship between Complement Syntax and False Belief Task Performance. J Autism Dev Disord 2009; 39:929-37.
Rakhlin N, Kornilov SA, Reich J, Babyonyshev M, Koposov RA, Grigorenko EL. The relationship between syntactic development and Theory of Mind: Evidence from a small-population study of a developmental language disorder. J Neurolinguistics 2011; 24:476-96.
Schick B, de Villiers P, de Villiers J, Hoffmeister R. Language and Theory of Mind: A Study of Deaf Children. Child Dev 2007; 78: 376-96.
Miller CA. Developmental Relationships between Language and Theory of Mind. Am J Speech Lang Pathol 2006; 15:142-54.
Remmel E, Peters K. Theory of Mind and Language in Children with Cochlear Implants. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ 2009; 14: 218-36.
Peterson CC., Wellman, HM, Liu D. Steps in Theory of Mind development for children with deafness or autism. Child Dev 2005; 76: 502 –71.
de Villiers J. The Interface of Language and Theory of Mind. Lingua 2007; 117: 1858-1878.
Gallagher HL, Frith CD. Functional imaging of 'theory of mind'. Trends Cogn Sci 2003; 7: 77-83.
Astington, JW. The future of theory-of-mind research: Understanding motivational states, the role of language, and real-world consequences. Child Development 2001; 72; 685–87.
Callaghan T, Rochat P, Lillard A, Claux ML, Odden H, Itakura S, et al. Synchrony in the onset of mental-state reasoning: evidence from five cultures. Psychol Sci 2005; 16:378-84.
Liszowski U, Carpenter M, Henning A, Striano T, Tomasello M. Twelvemonth-olds point to share attention and interest. Dev Sci 2004; 7: 297-307.
Wellman HM, Cross D. Theory of mind and conceptual change. Child Dev 2004; 72; 702–707.
Wellman HM, Cross D, Watson J. Meta-analysis of theory of mind development: The truth about false belief. Child Dev 2001; 72: 655–48.
Russel J. Justifying all the fuss about false belief. Trends Cogn Sci 2005; 9: 307–308.
Blijd-Hoogewys EMA, Van Geert PLC, Serra M, Minderaa RB. Measuring Theory of Mind in Children. Psychometric Properties of the ToM Storybooks. J Autism Dev Disord 2008; 38: 1907–1930.
Hughes C, Dunn J. Understanding mind and emotion: longitudinal association with mental-state between young friends. Dev Psychol 1998; 34: 1026-1037 .
Hughes C, Adlam A, Happé F, Jackson J, Taylor A, Caspi A. Good Test-Retest Reliability for Standard and Advanced False-Belief Tasks across a Wide Range of Abilities. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2000; 41: 483-490.
Jaeschke R, Guyatt GH. Sackett DL. Users’ guides to the medical literature, III: how to use an article about a diagnostic test, B: what are the results and will they help me in caring for my patients? The evi-dence-based Medicine Working Group. JAMA1994; 271:703–7.
Happé FG. An advanced test of theory of mind: Understanding of story characters' thoughts and feelings by able autistic, mentally handicapped, and normal children and adults. J Autism Dev Disord 1994; 29: 129-54.
Muris P, Steerman P, Meesters C, Merckelbach H, Horselenberg R, van den Hogen T, et al. The TOM Test: A New Instrument for Assessing Theory of Mind in Normal Children and Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 1999; 29: 67-80.
Wellman HM, Liu D. Scaling of Theory-of-Mind Tasks. Child Dev 2004; 75: 523-24.
Lohr KN, Aaronson NK, Alonso J, Burnam MA, Patrick DL, Perrin EB, et al. Evaluating quality-of-life and health status instruments: development of scientific review criteria. Clin Ther 1996; 18: 979–92.
Guyatt G, Feeny D, Patrick D. Issues in quality-of-life measurement in clinical trials. Control Clin Trials 1991; 12: 81–90.
Streiner DL, Norman GR, eds. Health measurement scales. Oxford University Press, New York; 2003.
Lloyd S, Streiner D, Shannon S. Predictive validity of the emergency physician and global job satisfaction instruments. Acad Emerg Med 1998; 5: 234–241.
Peterson C, Slaughter V. Opening windows into the mind: mothers’ preferences for mental state explanations and children’s theory of mind. Cognitive Development 2003; 18: 399–429.
Hutchins TL, Bonazinga LA, Prelock PA, Taylor RS. Beyond False Beliefs: The Development and Psychometric Evaluation of the Perceptions of Children’s Theory of Mind Measure-Experimental Version (PCToMM-E). J Autism Dev Disord 2008; 38: 143-55.
O’Hare AE, Bremner L, Nash M, Happé F, Pettigrew LM. A Clinical Assessment Tool for Advanced Theory of Mind Performance in 5 to 12 Year Olds . J Autism Dev Disord 2009; 39: 916-28.
Hutchins TL, Prelock PA, Bonazinga L. Psychometric Evaluation of the Theory of Mind Inventory (ToMI): A Study of Typically Developing Children and Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 2012; 42: 327–41.
Mohammadzadeh Z, Tehrani-doost M, Khorrami Bazaraki A. Evaluation of ToM (intentionality) in primary school children using movement shape paradigm. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 2012; 32: 69-73.
Tahiroglu D, Moses LJ, Carlson SM, Mahy CE, Olofson EL, Sabbagh MA. The Children's Social Understanding Scale: construction and validation of a parent-report measure for assessing individual differences in children's theories of mind. Dev Psychol 2014; 50: 2485-97.
Castelli F, Happe F, Frith C. Movement and mind: A functional imaging study of perception and interpretation of complex intentional movement pattern. Neuroimage 2000; 12: 314-25.
Gillot A, Furniss F, Walter A. Theory of mind ability in children with specific language impairment. Child Lang Teach Ther 2004; 20:1–11.
Fisher N, Happé F, Dunn J. The relationship between vocabulary, grammar, and false belief task performance in children with autistic spectrum disorders and children with moderate learning difficulties. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2005; 46: 409-19.
Gevers C, Clifford P, Mager M, Boer F. Brief Report: A Theory-of-Mind-based Social-Cognition Training Program for School-Aged Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders: An Open Study of its Effectiveness. J Autism Dev Disord 2006; 36: 567-71.
Hadwin J, Baron-Cohen S, Howlin P, Hill K. Does teaching theory of mind have an effect on the ability to develop conversation in children with autism?. J Autism Dev Disord. 1997; 27: 519-37.
Moeller MP, Schick B. Relations between maternal input and theory of mind understanding in deaf children. Child Dev 2006; 77: 751–66.
Peterson CC, Siegel M. Representing inner worlds: Theory of mind in autistic, deaf, and normal hearing children. Psychol Sci 1999; 10: 126 –29.
Peterson CC, Siegel M. Insights into a theory of mind from deafness and autism. Mind Lang 2000; 15: 123 –45.
Bloom P. German TP. Two reasons to abandon the false belief task as a test of theory of mind. Cognition 2000; 77: 25-31.
Buijsen M, Hendriks A, Ketelaars M, Verhoeven L. Assessment of theory of mind in children with communication disorders: Role of presentation mode. Res Dev Disabil 2011; 32: 1038-1045.
Huang SF, Oi M, Taguchi A. Comprehension of figurative language in Taiwanese children with autism: The role of theory of mind and receptive vocabulary. Clin Linguist Phon 2015; 24:1-12.