Language, ambiguity, and executive functions in adolescents' theory of mind

Jessica E. Brodsky, Zachary Bergson, Ming Chen, Elizabeth O. Hayward, Jan L. Plass, Bruce D. Homer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Executive functions' (EF) role in adolescents' advanced theory of mind (aToM) was examined. In Study 1, adolescents (N = 189 in 2017, Mage = 13.1 years, 55.6% female from racially/ethnically diverse schools) completed the Flexibility and Automaticity of Social Cognition task (FASC), and shifting and inhibition measures. Study 2 (N = 289 in 2018 and 2019, Mage = 15.7 years, 59.9% female, 56.4% Hispanic/Latino) replicated Study 1 in older adolescents using automated scoring of FASC flexibility. Flexibility of social cognition varied based on ambiguity and language use; automaticity of social cognition varied by ambiguity. The role of EF was less conclusive; shifting and inhibition predicted some flexibility and automaticity measures. Ambiguity, language, and EF, particularly shifting, influence aToM into adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-218
Number of pages17
JournalChild development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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