Language Variation and Theory of Mind in Typical Development: An Exploratory Study of School-Age African American Narrators Purpose The intent of this study was to explore the relation between language variation and theory of mind (ToM) in African American child narrators. Method Fifty children produced a narrative on the basis of the wordless book, Frog, Where Are You? ToM was assessed by children's internal-state words ... Research Note
Research Note  |   August 01, 2016
Language Variation and Theory of Mind in Typical Development: An Exploratory Study of School-Age African American Narrators
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Monique T. Mills
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Monica Fox
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Monique T. Mills: mills.298@osu.edu
  • Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Associate Editor: Carol Miller
    Associate Editor: Carol Miller×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Research Notes
Research Note   |   August 01, 2016
Language Variation and Theory of Mind in Typical Development: An Exploratory Study of School-Age African American Narrators
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2016, Vol. 25, 426-440. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-15-0038
History: Received April 14, 2015 , Revised July 31, 2015 , Accepted January 28, 2016
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2016, Vol. 25, 426-440. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-15-0038
History: Received April 14, 2015; Revised July 31, 2015; Accepted January 28, 2016
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose The intent of this study was to explore the relation between language variation and theory of mind (ToM) in African American child narrators.

Method Fifty children produced a narrative on the basis of the wordless book, Frog, Where Are You? ToM was assessed by children's internal-state words and false-belief mentioning in the book's narratives as well as their performance on the Reading the Eyes in the Mind Test (Baron-Cohen, Joliffe, Mortimore, & Robertson, 1997). Correlation and linear regression analyses were performed to determine the relationship between narrative language ability and ToM indices. Relationships between language variation, ToM indices, and socioeconomic status were also explored.

Results There was no correlation between language variation and the 3 ToM indicators. False-belief mentioning accounted for the most variance in children's narrative language. Language variation scores and ToM performance were both unrelated to children's socioeconomic backgrounds.

Conclusion ToM indicators, such as false-belief mentioning, provide information about African American children's narrative ability and appear to be dialect-neutral.

Acknowledgments
We recognize a Social and Behavioral Sciences Small Grant, awarded to the first author, that provided seed money to conduct the study. We would like to thank parents for allowing their children to participate in this study, and the school staff who provided time and space for data collection. We appreciate the graduate clinicians (Sarah Schadek, Allison Trent, Julia Applebaum, Megan Hyden, Sarah Hawkins, Jessica Trask, and Kristen Ackerman) and undergraduate students (Emily Lemon, Sara Comer, Megan Ryan, Jenna Haaser, and Carissa Schwiebert) for assisting with data collection and ToM coding. We are grateful for the Summer Research Opportunities Program student projects that Imani Evans and Zoe Hussey completed under the direction of the first author. The first author wishes to acknowledge colleagues from Lacqueys and the Promoting Productivity Painlessly writing group for numerous suggestions that moved this work forward.
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