Does theory of mind predict reading comprehension using a direct and indirect model?

Does theory of mind predict reading comprehension using a direct and indirect model?

First Author: Sophie Jackson -- University of Derby
Additional authors/chairs: 
Lance Slade; Sam McCormick; Joe Levy
Keywords: Reading comprehension, Structural equation modelling, Longitudinal, simple view of reading, Social cognition
Abstract / Summary: 

Recent research suggests that theory of mind (ToM) is important for reading comprehension (RC) development (Atkinson, Slade, Powell, & Levy, 2017; Kim, 2017), however, no research has explored this longitudinally within a direct and indirect model. ToM may assist RC as it could lead to better awareness of social information within text. This longitudinal study explored ToM at aged five years as an indirect predictor (via listening comprehension) of RC a year later.

Cognitive and language measures were administered to a UK sample of 147 children (50% males) at Time 1 (aged five) and again a year later (Time 2; aged six). A concurrent (Time 2) structural equation model predicting RC was run, including executive function, vocabulary, knowledge of grammar, theory of mind, listening comprehension and decoding. This model was then extended longitudinally for skills at Time 1 predicting RC at Time 2.

The concurrent model had an excellent fit, and ToM was shown to make a significant indirect contribution (via listening comprehension) to RC. The longitudinal model also had an excellent fit, however here ToM did not make a significant indirect contribution to RC.

These models support the Simple View of Reading (SVR) and recent research which shows that the linguistic comprehension component of the SVR can be unpacked into subskills. Findings also give further evidence for the contribution of ToM to RC concurrently, but not longitudinally. Here, reasons why ToM predicted RC concurrently but not longitudinally are discussed.