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Open access

Marta Białecka-Pikul, Marta Rynda and Daria Syrecka

Constructing a Narrative in the Standard Unexpected Transfer Test in Adolescence and Adulthood

The aim of the presented research was the replication and extension of the research by Nelson, Plesa and Henseler (1998), which was the basis for examining the nature of the theory of mind or mentalizing ability (that is, the ability to attribute mental states to other people in order to explain and predict their behaviors) in adolescents and adults. Specifically, its experience-like versus theory-like character. The test, an unexpected transfer task (the Max story), was completed by 827 people aged 13 to 75 (average 21.9). Half of them were supposed to solve the task with a shorter version of the story (including only the facts), and the other half were given the longer version (including descriptions of emotions, beliefs of the protagonist and explanations of ongoing events). All of the answers were then categorized applying Nelson's classification and two other types of analysis. Gender, age and fields of interest were taken into account during analysis of the participants' answers. The Polish respondents rarely answered in a narrative way (only 13%, in contrast to Nelson's result of 46%). Despite the fact that age was not a factor corresponding to a narrative answer, it was proven that older respondents did indeed assume the first person perspective when justifying Max's behavior. Women, more often than men, appealed to the knowledge and the protagonist's way of thinking. The respondents' fields of interest did not seem to diversify the obtained results, nor did the version of the story. The results do not allow us to draw unambiguous conclusions about the nature of the adult's theory of mind, but they form the basis for analyzing the methodology of research on theory of mind.

Open access

Maria Kielar-Turska and Marta Białecka-Pikul

Generating and Understanding Jokes by Five- And Nine-Year-Olds as an Expression of Theory of Mind

The main aim of the presented research is to describe children's ability to generate and understand humorous stories and pictures drawn by their peers and older or younger children. From the perspective of research on children's theories of mind, we assume that in middle childhood we will observe a transition from the basic, copy theory of mind to the interpretative one (Carpendale & Chandler, 1996). We examined 60 five- and nine-year-old children in two phases. During the first phase, the children were asked to draw a funny picture and then justify what made it funny and they had also to present the funny story. Two months later, the children were presented with some pictures chosen after the first phase as the most typical one. They had to justify why these pictures are funny. The obtained results indicate that there is a relation between the age of the subjects and the kind of interpretations of funny pictures which are consistent with the author's intentions. Significantly more nine-year-olds than five-year-olds accurately understood the author's intentions when interpreting his picture. The presented data indicate that changes in the theory of mind take place also in middle childhood and lead to a complex, interpretative theory of mind which can be discovered when researching children's understanding of jokes.

Open access

Marta Szpak and Marta Białecka-Pikul

Abstract

The main aim of the study was to check: (a) attachment-related differences in alexithymia and (b) the mediating role of mind-mindedness in attachment-alexithymia relationship. Method: Attachment (PAM; Berry et al., 2007), alexithymia (TAS-20; Bagby, Taylor, & Parker, 1994) and mind-mindedness (“describe your friend” method; Meins et al, 2008) were measured in the sample of 128 Polish undergraduates. Results: Positive associations were seen between attachment anxiety and overall alexithymia scores and difficulty identifying emotions. Attachment avoidance was positively associated with overall alexithymia score, difficulty describing feelings and externally oriented thinking. Mind-mindedness was not related to neither attachment or alexithymia. Conclusion: There are attachment-related differences in alexithymia, but mind-mindedness seems not to mediate attachment-alexithymia relationship.

Open access

Marta Białecka-Pikul, Magdalena Kosno and Karolina Byczewska-Konieczny

Abstract

The objective of the presented research was to test whether working memory, measured using the Spin the Pots task, is an important factor in passive vocabulary development in 2- and 3-year-old children. Two longitudinal studies were conducted. In the first, 135 children participated in the first study. At 18 months their responding to joint attention was measured, and then at 24 months their working memory and passive vocabulary was tested. It was demonstrated that responding to joint attention predicts the level of development of working memory, which in turn influences the extent of the passive vocabulary. In the second study, 113 children participated - at 30 months their working memory was measured, and at 24 months and then 36 months their passive vocabulary was tested. It was observed that at the age of 3 working memory is still a significant predictor of passive vocabulary. The usefulness of the Spin the Pots task for measuring the working memory of young children was shown and discussed in conclusions.

Open access

Joanna Jakubowska, Marta Szpak and Marta Białecka-Pikul

Abstract

Parents influence the development of children’s social understanding by using mental state terms that denote concepts which children are about to develop (Taumoepeau & Ruffman, 2006, 2008) or via the usage of contrastive and/or causal mental state talk (Peterson & Slaughter, 2003). The present longitudinal study examined parent-child dyads and assessed parental mental state talk (MST) during picture-book narration. Seventy-four parents told their children a story twice, when the children were 2 and 4 years old. The same wordless picture book was used to elicit the narration at each time point. Two criteria were used to classify MST: type of utterance (affective, perceptual, or cognitive) and complexity of utterance (simple or clarifying). Parental MST was more frequent in narrations to 4-yearolds than to 2-year-olds. Parents directed more complex MST to 4-year-old children than to 2-year-olds. Affective references were most common at both time points, while cognitive utterances hardly occurred. Nevertheless, growing trends were observed in all types of MST. The results suggest that parents match their MST to the children’s level of social understanding development.

Open access

Arkadiusz Białek, Marta Białecka-Pikul and Małgorzata Stępień–Nycz

Abstract

Analyses of interactions between an adult and a one-year-old child are often connected with studying early communicative competences, e.g. the child’s participation in turn-taking sequences, in joint attention, and use of pointing gestures. Infants’ communicative behaviors were studied using a structured observational measure - the Early Social Communication Scales (Mundy et al., 2003) in a study of 358 12-month-old children. An exploratory factor analysis revealed: (i) a distinction between the categories of initiation and response among the behaviors displayed, (ii) simple and complex behavior categories occurring; (iii) the presence within one factor of behaviors fulfilling various functions (e.g. requesting and sharing interest). An analysis of the results showed that communicative competences can be classified according to their level and ignoring their function, and made it possible to suggest modifications to the way in which behaviors are coded on the ESCS and to complement the procedure of studying early communicative competences.

Open access

Małgorzata Stępień-Nycz, Irmina Rostek, Karolina Byczewska-Konieczny, Magdalena Kosno, Marta Białecka-Pikul and Arkadiusz Białek

Abstract

The development of self-regulation in early childhood is related to development of emotional regulation and attention, in particular executive attention (Feldman, 2009; Posner & Rothbart, 1998). As the ability to self-regulate is crucial in life (Casey et al., 2011), it is important to reveal early predictors of self-regulation. The aim of the paper is to present the results of longitudinal studies on the relationships between the functioning of attention, regulation of emotion and later self-regulatory abilities. 310 children were assessed at three time points. At 12 months of age emotional regulation in situation of frustration and attention regulation were assessed. At 18 and 24 months behavioral-emotional regulation in the Snack Delay Task was measured. Additionally parents assessed executive attention using The Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire when children were 26 months old. Structural equation modelling revealed two different paths to development of self-regulatory abilities at 18 months: emotional (reactive system) and emotionalattentional and only one emotional-attentional path at 24 months. The early ability to focus attention and later executive attention functioning revealed to be important predictors of self-regulatory abilities both at 18 and 24 months of age.