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Social cognition development from the perspective of the relational frames theory: a preschool children study

Grant number: 13/26953-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2014
Effective date (End): February 29, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Human Development Psychology
Acordo de Cooperação: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Débora de Hollanda Souza
Grantee:Lívia Andrade Benatti
Host Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


Theory of mind is conventionally defined as the ability to understand desires, beliefs and feelings, one's own them to others and, on that basis, predict behaviors. Studies conducted for the purpose of assessing theory of mind in typically developing children use, mostly, false belief tasks to this goal. There is strong evidence that children begin to succeed in these tasks between 4 and 6 years old. Some recent research, however, based in the Relational Frames Theory (RFT), which conceptualizes language and cognition as derived from operant behaviors, have emphasized the role of perspective taking in the development of theory of mind. The results indicate that children who have undergone a training perspective taking showed better performance on tasks of theory of mind. This project aims to test possible effects of teaching - making perspective on the performance in theory of mind in children 4-5 years with typical development and from families of low socioeconomic level. Eight children participate in the study, randomly assigned to two groups. The experimental group will take part a procedure for teaching perspective taking, formed by blocks of simple verbal attempts and attempts to include double - reversal and reversal of roles with the experimenter. The control group will meet with the experimenter with the same frequency and duration of the experimental group, but not perform activities that involve perspective taking or theory of mind. Both groups will be evaluated in the theory of mind tasks, before and after the teaching procedure. It is expected that the experimental group to give improved performance in theory of mind tasks after training, both for its face value as compared to the control group. Considering the absence of studies on this subject and the importance of the theory of mind in social relationships of children and adults, this project has the potential to bring important contributions to the field on the topic. (AU)

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