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Child Development Research
Volume 2014, Article ID 893492, 10 pages
Research Article

Lost in Translation? Comparing British, Japanese, and Italian Children’s Theory-of-Mind Performance

1Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ, UK
2Graduate School of Education, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
3Department of Humanities, University of Pavia, Piazza Botta, 6-27100 Pavia, Italy

Received 29 August 2013; Accepted 5 December 2013; Published 16 January 2014

Academic Editor: Andrew N. Meltzoff

Copyright © 2014 Claire Hughes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Findings from cross-cultural theory-of-mind studies highlight potential measurement effects and both general (e.g., East-West) and specific (e.g., pedagogical experiences) cultural contrasts. We compared theory-of-mind scores for children from UK and Italy (two Western countries that differ in age of school entry) and Japan (a Far-Eastern country in which children, like their Italian counterparts, start school later than British children). Confirmatory factor analysis was applied to data from 268 age-gender- and verbal ability-matched 5- to 6-year olds. Key findings were that (i) all 8 indicators loaded onto a single latent factor; and (ii) this latent factor explained significant variance in each group, with just one indicator showing differential item functioning. Supporting the importance of pedagogical experiences, British children outperformed both their Italian and Japanese counterparts.