Theory of mind in deaf children
Illuminating the relative roles of language and executive functioning in the development of social cognition
While executive function and language both support false-belief understanding in typically developing children, our review of the research with deaf children shows that in this population, language plays a stronger role than executive function in developing an explicit understanding of false beliefs. In addressing this discrepancy, we discuss the methodological challenges of conducting research with deaf children and explore deaf children's development of other aspects of theory of mind, including intentions and desires, sources-of-knowledge, implicit false-belief understanding, and joint attention. Taken together, the current evidence supports the importance of early language exposure and children’s own language acquisition in building a mature theory of mind.
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