Background: Theory of mind (ToM) is a fundamental aspect of social cognition. Previous studies on age-related changes in mentalizing processes have provided conflicting results. This study aims to investigate the age-related changes in the cognitive and affective components of ToM throughout adulthood. Methods: Two hundred and thirty-eight healthy participants divided into five age groups (18-40 years old; 41-50 years old; 51-60 years old; 61-70 years; 71-80 years old) underwent tasks assessing the cognitive (ToM Picture Sequencing Task, TMPS, and the Advanced Test of ToM, ATT) and affective (Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task, RMET, and the Emotion Attribution Task, EAT) components of ToM, in both verbal and nonverbal modality. Results: Regarding affective ToM, both the youngest- and middle-old adult groups (61 to 80 years) performed worse than the young and youngest-middle adult groups (18 to 50 years) in the RMET, but no significant differences were found in the EAT. Regarding cognitive ToM, the middle-old adult group (71 to 80 years) performed worse than the young adult group (18 to 40 years) only in the TMPS, but no significant differences were found in the ATT. Conclusion: Rather than a general decline in ToM, our results provide evidence regarding selective changes in ToM in older adults, further confirming the dissociation of cognitive and affective ToM.

Cognitive and Affective Theory of Mind across Adulthood

Raimo, Simona;Cropano, Maria;Santangelo, Gabriella
2022

Abstract

Background: Theory of mind (ToM) is a fundamental aspect of social cognition. Previous studies on age-related changes in mentalizing processes have provided conflicting results. This study aims to investigate the age-related changes in the cognitive and affective components of ToM throughout adulthood. Methods: Two hundred and thirty-eight healthy participants divided into five age groups (18-40 years old; 41-50 years old; 51-60 years old; 61-70 years; 71-80 years old) underwent tasks assessing the cognitive (ToM Picture Sequencing Task, TMPS, and the Advanced Test of ToM, ATT) and affective (Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task, RMET, and the Emotion Attribution Task, EAT) components of ToM, in both verbal and nonverbal modality. Results: Regarding affective ToM, both the youngest- and middle-old adult groups (61 to 80 years) performed worse than the young and youngest-middle adult groups (18 to 50 years) in the RMET, but no significant differences were found in the EAT. Regarding cognitive ToM, the middle-old adult group (71 to 80 years) performed worse than the young adult group (18 to 40 years) only in the TMPS, but no significant differences were found in the ATT. Conclusion: Rather than a general decline in ToM, our results provide evidence regarding selective changes in ToM in older adults, further confirming the dissociation of cognitive and affective ToM.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11591/483492
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 1
  • Scopus 1
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 1
social impact