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.