Universal and cultural processes in theory-of-mind development: Insights from Israeli preschool children

Margalit Ziv*, Mati Zakai-Mashiach, Michal Al-Yagon, Esther Dromi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Theory of mind (ToM) is a central component of social cognition and refers to the understanding of people as mental beings, whose behaviors rely on their thoughts, wants, intentions and feelings. In order to portray a comprehensive picture of ToM development, researchers have shifted from focusing on the false belief task to testing the developmental sequence of acquisition of multiple mental concepts. There is also growing interest among researchers in universal commonalities and cultural differences in ToM development. The present chapter summarizes the results of a large set of studies in which ToM development was portrayed in various countries. It also presents the results of an Israeli validation study of the Hebrew version of the Wellman and Liu (2004) developmental scale. The rich set of studies that are cited in this chapter support the theoretical model that proposes a universal progression in ToM development that also entails cross-cultural variations. We argue that in order to deepen understanding with regard to universal and cultural perspectives of socio-cognitive development, there is a need to shift from an individualistic-collectivist dichotomy to a more complex socio-cultural model which considers children's personal, social, educational and family experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Social Cognition Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781633217362
ISBN (Print)9781633217140
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


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