Development of symbolic functions in preschool age: the role of theory of mind and intelligence

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Senior researcher
Affiliation: Institute of Psychology RAS
Address: Moscow, st. Yaroslavskaya, 13
Occupation: Chief researcher of the laboratory of psychology of development of the subject in normal and post-traumatic States
Affiliation: Federal State-financed Establishment of Science, Institute of Psychology RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal namePsikhologicheskii zhurnal
EditionVolume 41 issue 5

The results of a study of the relationship between the development of symbolic functions, theory of mind and intelligence in preschool age are presented. The hypothesis of the conjugation of the level of intellectual development and development of theory of mind with the understanding and use of symbolic means by preschool children in play and drawing was tested. To study the development of symbolic functions, tasks have been developed that allow us to analyze the success of children using and understanding symbolic means in play and drawing. The development of theory of mind was evaluated using two batteries of tasks covering its main components: recognition of emotions, understanding of situational and mental causes of emotions, visual perspective, intentions, false beliefs and deception. To test the level of intellectual development, we used the test of D. Wechsler for preschool and primary school age. The study involved 60 children of two age groups — 3–4 years and 5–6 years. Correlation analysis showed age-related variability of connections between the development of symbolic functions, aspects of theory of mind and intellectual abilities. The relationship between intelligence and symbolic functions has changed with age: from the connections between non-verbal intellectual abilities and the use of symbolic means to the connections between verbal intellectual abilities and understanding of symbolic means in the play and drawing. Also, with age, the relationship between individual aspects of theory of mind and the ability to symbolize increased. The results of structural equations modeling confirmed the hypothesis of the mediative role of theory of mind in the influence of intelligence on the development of symbolic functions.

Keywordstheory of mind, symbolic functions, intelligence, development of the play and drawing, symbolic play, preschool age
Publication date13.09.2020
Number of characters32939
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