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Theory of Mind among Disadvantaged Children: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Gary Charness
  • John List
  • Aldo Rustichini
  • Anya Samek
  • Jeroen van de Ven

Abstract

Theory of Mind (ToM), the ability to correctly attribute mental states to others, is important in social interactions. We evaluate the development of ToM in about 800 mostly disadvantaged children. We next conduct a field experiment with about 160 children in which we find that the low ToM rates for these disadvantaged children improve substantially in environments where the presence of other children is made salient. We see that ToM performance increases for both younger and older children in the treatment with strong salience, but that the treatment with weaker salience seems to be only effective in improving the ToM rates for older children.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Charness & John List & Aldo Rustichini & Anya Samek & Jeroen van de Ven, 2020. "Theory of Mind among Disadvantaged Children: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00686, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00686
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Defever, Fabrice & Imbruno, Michele & Kneller, Richard, 2020. "Trade liberalization, input intermediaries and firm productivity: Evidence from China," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    2. John A. List & Azeem M. Shaikh & Yang Xu, 2019. "Multiple hypothesis testing in experimental economics," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(4), pages 773-793, December.
    3. James Heckman, 2011. "Policies to foster human capital," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 73-137.
    4. Ben-Ner, Avner & List, John A. & Putterman, Louis & Samek, Anya, 2017. "Learned generosity? An artefactual field experiment with parents and their children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 28-44.
    5. Andreoni, James & Kuhn, Michael A. & List, John A. & Samek, Anya & Sokal, Kevin & Sprenger, Charles, 2019. "Toward an understanding of the development of time preferences: Evidence from field experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 1-1.
    6. Jason M Cowell & Anya Samek & John List & Jean Decety, 2015. "The Curious Relation between Theory of Mind and Sharing in Preschool Age Children," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 10(2), pages 1-8, February.
    7. List, John A. & Samak, Anya C., 2013. "Exploring the origins of charitable acts: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment with young children," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(3), pages 431-434.
    8. Galanis, S., 2019. "Speculative Trade and the Value of Public Information," Working Papers 20/04, Department of Economics, City University London.
    9. Samak, Anya C., 2013. "Is there a gender gap in preschoolers’ competitiveness? An experiment in the U.S," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 22-31.
    10. James Andreoni & Amalia Di Girolamo & John A. List & Claire Mackevicius & Anya Samek, 2019. "Risk Preferences of Children and Adolescents in Relation to Gender, Cognitive Skills, Soft Skills, and Executive Functions," NBER Working Papers 25723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Alexander W. Cappelen & John A. List & Anya Samek & Bertil Tungodden, 2016. "The Effect of Early Education on Social Preferences," NBER Working Papers 22898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Uri Gneezy & John A. List & Jeffrey A. Livingston & Xiangdong Qin & Sally Sadoff & Yang Xu, 2019. "Measuring Success in Education: The Role of Effort on the Test Itself," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 291-308, December.
    13. Paul Levine & Joseph Pearlman & Stephen Wright & Bo Yang, 2019. "Information, VARs and DSGE Models," School of Economics Discussion Papers 1619, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
    14. Roland Fryer & Steven Levitt & John List, 2015. "Parental Incentives and Early Childhood Achievement: A Field Experiment in Chicago Heights," Framed Field Experiments 00587, The Field Experiments Website.
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    16. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
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    20. Mamageishvili, A. & Schlegel, J. C., 2019. "Optimal Smart Contracts with Costly Verification," Working Papers 19/13, Department of Economics, City University London.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D., 2020. "The evolution of choice and learning in the two-person beauty contest game from kindergarten to adulthood," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 132-143.
    2. James Andreoni & Amalia Di Girolamo & John List & Claire Mackevicius & Anya Samek, 2019. "Risk Preferences of Children and Adolescents in Relation to Gender, Cognitive Skills, Soft Skills, and Executive Functions," Artefactual Field Experiments 00668, The Field Experiments Website.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B49 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Other
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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