Lost in Translation? Comparing British, Japanese, and Italian Children’s Theory-of-Mind Performance

03 Oct 2017

Findings from cross-cultural theory-of-mind studies highlight potential measurement effects and both general (e.g., East-West) and specific (e.g., pedagogical experiences) cultural contrasts. We compared theory-of-mind scores for children from UK and Italy (two Western countries that differ in age of school entry) and Japan (a Far-Eastern country in which children, like their Italian counterparts, start school later than British children). Confirmatory factor analysis was applied to data from 268 age-gender- and verbal ability-matched 5- to 6-year olds. Key findings were that (i) all 8 indicators loaded onto a single latent factor; and (ii) this latent factor explained significant variance in each group, with just one indicator showing differential item functioning. Supporting the importance of pedagogical experiences, British children outperformed both their Italian and Japanese counterparts.