A longitudinal investigation of the relationship between symbolic gesture, maternal mind-mindedness and theory of mind.
Follow-up data are presented from a longitudinal investigation of the effects of encouraging symbolic gesture in mother-infant dyads. Infants had been randomly allocated to either gesture training or control conditions at 8 months and routinely assessed until 20 months (Kirk et al., 2013). We followed-up these children (aged five) and tested whether mind-mindedness during infancy would predict children’s higher order Theory of Mind (ToM, measured using the Strange Stories task, Happé, 1997) and whether gesture training boosted this ability to attribute mental states to others. Children’s ToM was significantly predicted by mothers’ appropriate mind-related comments when infants were 10, 12 and 20 months of age. Encouraging gesture in infancy did not result in observable differences in ToM.