A longitudinal investigation of the relationship between maternal mind-mindedness and theory of mind

Elizabeth Kirk*, Karen Pine, Lisa Wheatley, Neil Howlett, Joerg Schulz, Ben C. Fletcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Data are presented from a longitudinal investigation examining the relationship between maternal mind-mindedness in infancy and socio-cognitive development in childhood. We revisited children (n = 18) who had taken part in a longitudinal study as infants. Mind-mindedness had been assessed at 10, 12, 16, and 20 months of age. We followed-up these children at age 5 to 6 years to test their higher order Theory of Mind (measured using the Strange Stories task, Happé, 1997). The convergent validity, temporal stability, and predictive validity of the construct of mind-mindedness were examined in a longitudinal dataset. The five measures of mind-mindedness were not significantly correlated. Mother’s production of appropriate mind-related comments (but no other measures) showed evidence of temporal stability throughout infancy. Thus mind-mindedness (as measured by appropriate mind-related comments) was confirmed as a stable construct. Children’s Theory of Mind at age 5 to 6 was significantly predicted by their mother’s mind-mindedness up to four years earlier, with mind-mindedness accounting for 40% of the variance of the Strange Stories task scores. These findings identify a relationship between mind-mindedness across a protracted period of infancy and socio-cognitive development at age 5 to 6.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-445
Number of pages12
JournalBritish journal of developmental psychology
Issue number4
Early online date27 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 The British Psychological Society. This is an author produced version of a paper accepted for publication in British Journal of Developmental Psychology. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.


  • Longitudinal
  • Mind-mindedness
  • Social-cognitive development
  • Theory of mind

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