Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Psychol Sci. 2009 Jul;20(7):805-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02377.x. Epub 2009 Jun 8.

Language promotes false-belief understanding: evidence from learners of a new sign language.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Wellesley College, 106 Central St., SCI480, Wellesley, MA 02841, USA. jpyers@wellesley.edu

Abstract

Developmental studies have identified a strong correlation in the timing of language development and false-belief understanding. However, the nature of this relationship remains unresolved. Does language promote false-belief understanding, or does it merely facilitate development that could occur independently, albeit on a delayed timescale? We examined language development and false-belief understanding in deaf learners of an emerging sign language in Nicaragua. The use of mental-state vocabulary and performance on a low-verbal false-belief task were assessed, over 2 years, in adult and adolescent users of Nicaraguan Sign Language. Results show that those adults who acquired a nascent form of the language during childhood produce few mental-state signs and fail to exhibit false-belief understanding. Furthermore, those whose language developed over the period of the study correspondingly developed in false-belief understanding. Thus, language learning, over and above social experience, drives the development of a mature theory of mind.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk