Origins of individual differences in theory of mind: From nature to nurture?

C Hughes, S R Jaffee, F Happe, A Taylor, A Caspi, T E Moffitt

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

196 Citations (Scopus)


In this study of the origins of individual differences in theory of mind (ToM), the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study sample of 1,116 sixty-month-old twin pairs completed a comprehensive battery of ToM tasks. Individual differences in ToM were striking and strongly associated with verbal ability. Behavioral genetic models of the data showed that environmental factors explained the majority of the variance in ToM performance in this sample. Shared environmental influences on verbal ability had a common impact on ToM and explained more than half the phenotypic correlation between these two skills. Possible underlying proximal mechanisms are discussed, including maternal speech and mind-mindedness, sibling interactions, and peer influences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356 - 370
Number of pages15
JournalChild Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


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