Developing a parent questionnaire on children’s theory of mind and empathy

Lamei WANG, Zhenlin WANG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Based on the hypothesis that ToM and empathy are two distinctive psychological constructs the current study develops a parent questionnaire on children’s ToM and empathy. In addition to items drawn from existing measures such as Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, Empathy Questionnaire, new items were added in the initial 33-item questionnaire. The questionnaire was translated into Cantonese and validated by 4 experts. Parents of 3-6-year-old children were recruited in Hong Kong. First sample of 116 parents completed the questionnaire on a 5 point Likert scale. Contrary to the predicted 2‐factor model, a Principal Components Analysis revealed that a 3‐factor model fits the data better. Out of the 17 remaining items in the final solution, one factor is Empathy; the other two factors resonate with the nice and nasty theory of mind idea, hence the name Nice ToM and Nasty ToM. Second sample of 189 parents completed the 17-item questionnaires. Cronbach’s alphas showed a good reliability of the questionnaire and internal consistency for each of the three scales. Confirmative factor analysis using a structural equation modeling approach was performed on the hypothesized model. After model modification a 4‐4‐3 item structure of the 3‐factor model verified the hypothesized model generated from PCA. The overall model fit criteria confirmed that the hypothesized structural model fit the sample data well. All the paths from the constructs to the items were statistically significant. The standardized path coefficients suggesting that the items are good indicators of the three constructs. Low correlations between each pair of three factors showed a relative independence between factors. The results revealed that Nice ToM, Nasty ToM and Empathy might be three distinctive psychological constructs. The final 11-item parent questionnaire could be applied to investigate social cognition function among 3‐6 years old Cantonese speaking children. Copyright © 2013 AHDA.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


Wang, L., & Wang, Z. (2013, July). Developing a parent questionnaire on children’s theory of mind and empathy. Paper presented at the 18th Biennial Conference of the Australasian Human Development Association, Queensland, Australia.


Dive into the research topics of 'Developing a parent questionnaire on children’s theory of mind and empathy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.