Master of Science
The present study tested whether inference-making and theory of mind abilities relate to children’s listening comprehension of commercially available children’s story picture books. Previous research has established a relationship between inference-making and listening comprehension but has done so using very different operationalizations of inference-making. Additionally, theory of mind has been hypothesized to relate to children’s listening comprehension and is proposed to be a subset of inference-making abilities. The present study adds to the previous research by exploring the independent relationship of child’s ability to draw inferences of different levels of complexity and their theory of mind abilities and listening comprehension. A total of 66 4- and 6-year-olds were read two children’s story picture books across two different sessions. Children were asked literal, simple inferential, and complex inferential questions at predetermined points while listening to the story to assess inference-making abilities. Children’s listening comprehension was assessed using a recall task after finishing reading the book. Results indicated that 6-year-olds outperformed 4-year-olds on all types of questions asked. The ability to draw complex inferences predicted children’s listening comprehension abilities, while children’s ability to answer literal and simple inferential questions did not. Performance on the theory of mind tasks did not predict listening comprehension. Potential explanations for the lack of this relationship are discussed.
Lindley, Caitlin Elise, "Inference-making, theory of mind, and oral narrative comprehension in young children" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 5676.