Knowledge About the Mind: Links Between Theory of Mind and Later Metamemory


  • This research was supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, FOR 261/2-2). We are grateful to the children and the kindergartens whose cooperation made this study possible. We would also like to thank Cami Benjamin and Dajie Zhang Topp for proof-reading and Olivia Fernandez, Brigitte Zeugner, and many other students for helping with the data collection. Special thanks are due to Peter Ornstein and Sabine Weinert for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

concerning this article should be addressed to Kathrin Lockl, Department of Psychology, University of Bamberg, Markusplatz 3, D-96045 Bamberg. Electronic mail may be sent to


This longitudinal study combined, in a single study, different aspects of children's knowledge about mental phenomena and thus could investigate relations among the development of language, theory of mind, and later metamemory. In total, 183 German children were tested at ages 3, 4, and 5. Each time of testing included a set of theory-of-mind tasks, a battery of language development, and additionally, at Time 3, a set of metamemory questions. The findings demonstrate strong relationships between children's language abilities and their theory of mind (both first- and second-order false beliefs). Moreover, both theory-of-mind and language competencies significantly predicted later metamemory, with their relative contribution changing over time. Language may influence metamemory developmentally both directly and indirectly (through theory of mind).