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Purpose

The intent of this study was to explore the relation between language variation and theory of mind (ToM) in African American child narrators.

Method

Fifty children produced a narrative on the basis of the wordless book, Frog, Where Are You? ToM was assessed by children's internal-state words and false-belief mentioning in the book's narratives as well as their performance on the Reading the Eyes in the Mind Test (Baron-Cohen, Joliffe, Mortimore, & Robertson, 1997). Correlation and linear regression analyses were performed to determine the relationship between narrative language ability and ToM indices. Relationships between language variation, ToM indices, and socioeconomic status were also explored.

Results

There was no correlation between language variation and the 3 ToM indicators. False-belief mentioning accounted for the most variance in children's narrative language. Language variation scores and ToM performance were both unrelated to children's socioeconomic backgrounds.

Conclusion

ToM indicators, such as false-belief mentioning, provide information about African American children's narrative ability and appear to be dialect-neutral.