About this Research Topic
We often refer to mental states such as intentions, desires, and beliefs to explain and predict our own behavior and that of others. Mental state understanding develops from infancy through adolescence and adulthood. A deeper understanding of influencing developmental factors may be obtained by studying individual differences in typical and atypical populations.
In this Research Topic, we encourage submission of theoretical and empirical papers that investigate questions related to individual differences in the development of mental state understanding across the life span (e.g., Theory of Mind (ToM), emotion understanding, empathy, irony, mind mindedness, reflective function) and in typical as well as in atypical populations (e.g., Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Specific Language Impairment, hearing impairment, visual impairment, intellectual disabilities, internalizing and externalizing behavior disorders). Influencing factors of interest include but are not limited to: language, cognitive functioning, executive function, temperament, social background, parenting, siblings, attachment, and cultural differences.
We welcome contributions that address, for example, open questions regarding:
• The role of linguistic competence in the development of a Theory in Mind during infancy: the differential effects of syntax, lexicon and communicative interaction on ToM development found in typical populations may not be the same in atypical populations.
• The role of cultural belonging in the development of mental state understanding: Cultural belonging implies differences in parenting, mother tongue, socialization processes, etc., which may influence the developmental trajectory of mental state understanding. More research is needed especially on so far under-researched cultures, for example, in Arab societies.
• The development of mental state understanding in children with a specific impairment: Research on children with Specific Language Impairment or with Visual Impairment, for example, produced mixed results with developmental delays reported by only some of the studies. More research is needed controlling, for example, for children’s mother-tongue.