Parent- and Teacher-Rated Social Skills and Theory of Mind in Kindergarteners
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This study investigated how kindergartners’ use of Theory of Mind (ToM; understanding and inferring others’ mental states to predict and explain behavior) relate to their Social Competence (SC), as rated by parents and teachers. This study aimed to determine whether social skills items could be classified as more or less conventional (knowledge of emotions and social conventions) or intentional (requires noticing and interpreting other’s beliefs and intentions) based on their correlates with more or less structured performance measures of ToM, respectively. Results partially supported this this distinction. Patterns suggested that parents and teachers judge children’s social skills differently. This study also explored relations of language with SC and ToM. Language accounted for much of the variance in the more structured ToM task and teacher-rated social skills, but not the less structured ToM task or parent-rated social skills. Implications for SC conceptualization and scale construction and interpretation are discussed.