Skip to main content


Swipe om te navigeren naar een ander artikel

08-11-2019 | Original Article Open Access

Cognitive and affective Theory of Mind in adolescence: developmental aspects and associated neuropsychological variables

Psychological Research
Edith Theresa Gabriel, Raphaela Oberger, Michaela Schmoeger, Matthias Deckert, Stefanie Vockh, Eduard Auff, Ulrike Willinger
Belangrijke opmerkingen

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Theory of Mind (ToM) is the ability to represent and attribute mental states to oneself and others. So far, research regarding ToM processing across adolescence is scarce. Existing studies either yield inconsistent results or did not or not thoroughly investigate aspects like higher order ToM and associated neuropsychological variables which the current study tried to address. 643 typically developing early, middle, and late adolescents (age groups 13–14; 15–16; 17–18) performed cognitive and affective ToM tasks as well as neuropsychological tasks tapping the cognitive or affective domain. Regarding both ToM types, 15- to 16-year-olds and 17- to 18-year-olds outperformed 13- to 14-year-olds, whereas females were superior regarding cognitive ToM. Across adolescence, cognitive and affective ToM correlated with attention and affective intelligence, whereas working memory, language comprehension, and figural intelligence additionally correlated with cognitive ToM. In early adolescence, attention correlated with both ToM types, whereas cognitive ToM further correlated with language comprehension and affective ToM with verbal intelligence, verbal fluency, and verbal flexibility. In middle and late adolescence, affective intelligence correlated with both ToM types, whereas cognitive ToM additionally correlated with working memory, language comprehension, and figural intelligence. The current study shows a developmental step regarding cognitive and affective ToM in middle adolescence as well as gender differences in cognitive ToM processing. Associations between neuropsychological variables and ToM processing were shown across adolescence and within age groups. Results give new insights into social cognition in adolescence and are well supported by neuroscientific and neurobiological studies regarding ToM and the integration of cognitive and affective processes.

Graphic abstract

Onze productaanbevelingen

BSL Psychologie Totaal

Met BSL Psychologie Totaal blijft u als professional steeds op de hoogte van de nieuwste ontwikkelingen binnen uw vak. Met het online abonnement heeft u toegang tot een groot aantal boeken, protocollen, vaktijdschriften en e-learnings op het gebied van psychologie en psychiatrie. Zo kunt u op uw gemak en wanneer het u het beste uitkomt verdiepen in uw vakgebied.

Over dit artikel