Understanding of emotions and false beliefs among hearing children versus deaf children

Margalit Ziv*, Tova Most, Shirit Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Emotion understanding and theory of mind (ToM) are two major aspects of social cognition in which deaf children demonstrate developmental delays. The current study investigated these social cognition aspects in two subgroups of deaf children-those with cochlear implants who communicate orally (speakers) and those who communicate primarily using sign language (signers)-in comparison to hearing children. Participants were 53 Israeli kindergartners-20 speakers, 10 signers, and 23 hearing children. Tests included four emotion identification and understanding tasks and one false belief task (ToM). Results revealed similarities among all children's emotion labeling and affective perspective taking abilities, similarities between speakers and hearing children in false beliefs and in understanding emotions in typical contexts, and lower performance of signers on the latter three tasks. Adapting educational experiences to the unique characteristics and needs of speakers and signers is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-174
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


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