Origins of individual differences in theory of mind: from nature to nurture?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In this study of the origins of individual differences in theory of mind (ToM), the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study sample of 1,116 sixty-month-old twin pairs completed a comprehensive battery of ToM tasks. Individual differences in ToM were striking and strongly associated with verbal ability. Behavioral genetic models of the data showed that environmental factors explained the majority of the variance in ToM performance in this sample. Shared environmental influences on verbal ability had a common impact on ToM and explained more than half the phenotypic correlation between these two skills. Possible underlying proximal mechanisms are discussed, including maternal speech and mind-mindedness, sibling interactions, and peer influences.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hughes, C; Jaffee, SR; Happé, F; Taylor, A; Caspi, A; Moffitt, TE

Published Date

  • March 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 76 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 356 - 370

PubMed ID

  • 15784087

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-8624

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0009-3920

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2005.00850.x


  • eng