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Child Development Research
Volume 2017, Article ID 1725487, 7 pages
Research Article

Mental State Talk Structure in Children’s Narratives: A Cluster Analysis

1Department of Education and Psychology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
2NEUROFARBA, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Christian Tarchi; moc.liamg@ihcrat.naitsirhc

Received 22 January 2017; Accepted 12 March 2017; Published 21 March 2017

Academic Editor: Randal X. Moldrich

Copyright © 2017 Giuliana Pinto 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.


This study analysed children’s Theory of Mind (ToM) as assessed by mental state talk in oral narratives. We hypothesized that the children’s mental state talk in narratives has an underlying structure, with specific terms organized in clusters. Ninety-eight children attending the last year of kindergarten were asked to tell a story twice, at the beginning and at the end of the school year. Mental state talk was analysed by identifying terms and expressions referring to perceptual, physiological, emotional, willingness, cognitive, moral, and sociorelational states. The cluster analysis showed that children’s mental state talk is organized in two main clusters: perceptual states and affective states. Results from the study confirm the feasibility of narratives as an outlet to inquire mental state talk and offer a more fine-grained analysis of mental state talk structure.