General programme, activity sheet

Wednesday 7 September, 2016 Poster
Why is shared book reading effective for children's Theory of Mind development?: Frequency analysis of cognitive mental state terms in Japanese picture books
Speaker: Yuko Okumura, NTT Communication Science Laboratories

Authors: Yuko OKUMURA, Tessei KOBAYASHI, Sanae FUJITA, Takashi HATTORI


Mental state conversations between parents and children play a key role in the development of children’s mental state understanding, such as theory of mind (ToM) (Ruffman et al., 2002). Another previous research reported that shared picture book reading frequency between mother and child at five years was associated with improved ToM performance, although frequency at one year was not associated with it (Sato et al., 2016). However, it remains unclear which aspects of picture books effect the ToM development. Our study focuses on frequency of the mental state terms that appear in picture books along ages of children the picture books are written for. We constructed a corpus of 2244 Japanese children’s picture book stories, which were chosen from bestseller lists and librarian-recommendations. First, we created gradual readability measures (or target ages) from infants to six-year-olds for the picture books (Fujita et al., 2015). Then, we assessed the frequencies of mental state terms in our corpus, particularly focusing on four types of representative cognitive mental terms, which have strong correlations with children’s ToM understanding: understand, think, guess/wonder, and know (Tsuji, 2011). The results demonstrated that 1049 of 2244 picture books included such mental state terms. Next, we investigated the frequencies of books for children at a particular age. The following are the percentage of books containing mental state terms: 4.1% (5/122 books), 8.0% (12/150), 16.7% (43/258), 37.0% (121/327), 49.1% (155/316), 61.6% (373/606), and 73.1% (340/465) in the books for ages 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, respectively. Overall, the picture books for elder children, especially those for five-year-olds and older, contained more mental state terms than the books for younger toddlers. Thus, the result suggests that the frequency of the mental state terms in the picture book used for shared reading is correlated with the ToM development.
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Coffee break and poster session
Place: Hall First floor area A

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10:30 h. to 11:30 h.Coffee break

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