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Comprehensive theory of mind assessment (Poll et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-08-22, 14:07 authored by Gerard H. Poll, Sherilyn Drexler, Allison Huntington, Mackenzie Galindo, Alexa Galack

Purpose: Theory of mind involves perceiving both the thoughts and emotions of others. Theory of mind skills continue to develop in school-age individuals. For children at risk for social communication difficulties, evaluating theory of mind is warranted to determine whether theory of mind should be a target of intervention. There are hundreds of tasks designed to evaluate theory of mind, but many evaluate a single facet of the construct and have uneven psychometric properties. Comprehensive assessments evaluate both cognitive and affective aspects of theory of mind. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify comprehensive theory of mind assessments for school-age individuals and to critically appraise their measurement properties.

Method: Four databases were searched to identify 27 included records describing the measurement properties of comprehensive theory of mind assessments for 5- to 21-year-olds. Assessments appearing in at least three records were included. The methodological quality of the studies and the sufficiency of assessments’ measurement properties were evaluated using the COnsensusbased Standards for the selection of health Measurement Instruments (COSMIN).

Results: Nine assessments were evaluated, and four met COSMIN standards for sufficient content validity and internal consistency to be recommended for clinical use.

Conclusions: Comprehensive assessments enable examiners to develop a profile of children’s theory of mind strengths and needs. Strengths of the identified assessments include sufficient convergent validity and internal consistency. Further research is required to develop higher quality evidence for the content validity, structural validity, and reliability of the included assessments.

Supplemental Material S1. Search strategy for PubMed.

Supplemental Material S2. Records excluded as having only indirect evidence for the measurement properties of included comprehensive theory of mind assessments.

Supplemental Material S3. Ratings of measurement properties and risk of bias for individual studies of theory of mind assessment measurement properties.

Poll, G. H., Drexler, S., Huntington, A., Galindo, M., & Galak, A. (2023). Comprehensive assessments of theory of mind abilities for school-age children: A systematic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.


Funding for this project was provided by Miami University to the first author.