Publication details [#63395]

Bosco, Francesca M. and Ilaria Gabbatore. 2017. Theory of mind in recognizing and recovering communicative failures. Applied Psycholinguistics 38 (1) : 57–88.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Cambridge University Press


This study assayed the role played by theory of mind (ToM) in children's capacity to identify and repair different kinds of communicative failures. Especially, it assayed three distinct kinds of communicative failures: failure of the expression act, communicative meaning, and communicative effect. It administered videotaped stories, in which people act out a communicative failure and first- and second-order ToM tasks, to 120 children ranging in age from 3.5 to 8.5 years. The children displayed a trend of enhanced difficulty in managing the communicative failures explored. Furthermore, children's ToM capacity is partially correlated with recognition and repair of a communicative task; however, it is not capable of clarifying the trend of difficulty discovered. The study proposes that the factor better clarifying such trend is the raising intricacy of the mental representations underlying the three distinct kinds of failures.