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      Psychometric Properties of the Theory of Mind Assessment Scale in a Sample of Adolescents and Adults

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          Abstract

          This research aimed at the evaluation of the psychometric properties of the Theory of Mind Assessment Scale (Th.o.m.a.s.). Th.o.m.a.s. is a semi-structured interview meant to evaluate a person's Theory of Mind (ToM). It is composed of several questions organized in four scales, each focusing on one of the areas of knowledge in which such faculty may manifest itself: Scale A (I-Me) investigates first-order first-person ToM; Scale B (Other-Self) investigates third-person ToM from an allocentric perspective; Scale C (I-Other) again investigates third-person ToM, but from an egocentric perspective; and Scale D (Other-Me) investigates second-order ToM. The psychometric proprieties of Th.o.m.a.s. were evaluated in a sample of 156 healthy persons: 80 preadolescent and adolescent (aged 11–17 years, 42 females) and 76 adults (aged from 20 to 67 years, 35 females). Th.o.m.a.s. scores show good inter-rater agreement and internal consistency; the scores increase with age. Evidence of criterion validity was found as Scale B scores were correlated with those of an independent instrument for the evaluation of ToM, the Strange Stories task. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) showed good fit of the four-factors theoretical model to the data, although the four factors were highly correlated. For each of the four scales, Rasch analyses showed that, with few exceptions, items fitted the Partial credit model and their functioning was invariant for gender and age. The results of this study, along with those of previous researches with clinical samples, show that Th.o.m.a.s. is a promising instrument to assess ToM in different populations.

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          Most cited references 50

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          Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives

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            “John thinks that Mary thinks that…” attribution of second-order beliefs by 5- to 10-year-old children

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              Recognition of faux pas by normally developing children and children with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism.

              Most theory of mind (ToM) tests are designed for subjects with a mental age of 4-6 years. There are very few ToM tests for subjects who are older or more able than this. We report a new test of ToM, designed for children 7-11 years old. The task involves recognizing faux pas. Study 1 tested 7-9, and 11-year-old normal children. Results showed that the ability to detect faux pas developed with age and that there was a differential developmental profile between the two sexes (female superiority). Study 2 tested children with Asperger syndrome (AS) or high-functioning autism (HFA), selected for being able to pass traditional 4- to 6-year level (first- and second-order) false belief tests. Results showed that whereas normal 9- to 11-year-old children were skilled at detecting faux pas, children with AS or HFA were impaired on this task. Study 3 reports a refinement in the test, employing control stimuli. This replicated the results from Study 2. Some patients with AS or HFA were able to recognize faux pas but still produced them. Future research should assess faux pas production.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                09 May 2016
                2016
                : 7
                Affiliations
                1Department of Psychology, University of Turin Turin, Italy
                2Neuroscience Institute of Turin, University of Turin Turin, Italy
                3Faculty of Humanities, Research Unit of Logopedics, Child Language Research Center, University of Oulu Oulu, Finland
                Author notes

                Edited by: Claire Marie Fletcher-Flinn, University of Auckland, New Zealand

                Reviewed by: Giancarlo Dimaggio, Centro di Terapia Metacognitiva Interpersonale, Italy; Sally Olderbak, Univertät Ulm, Germany

                This article was submitted to Cognitive Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00566
                4860419
                27242563
                Copyright © 2016 Bosco, Gabbatore, Tirassa and Testa.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 5, Equations: 0, References: 82, Pages: 12, Words: 9877
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research

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