Deaf children's understanding of beliefs and desires
Dowker A., Steeds L., Rowe K.
Twenty-two children (5-12 years old) who were profoundly, prelingually deaf were given two tests designed to tap their "theory of mind," that is, their ability to attribute independent mental states to other people. The tests were versions of Baron-Cohen, Leslie, and Frith's Sally-Anne task and of Paul Harris' breakfast task. Seventy percent of the children were successful on all questions requiring belief attribution, a considerably and significantly larger percentage than the 29% obtained by Peterson and Siegal for a similar sample, though it is still lower than would be expected on the basis on chronological age. Children were universally successful on questions requiring the attribution of desire. We discuss implications of the findings.