Play and theory of mind in early childhood: A Hong Kong perspective

Zhenlin WANG, Kwok Shing Richard WONG, Yau Ho Paul WONG, Fuk Chuen HO, Pui Wah Doris CHENG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The study seeks to understand the relation between preschool children's mode of participation and negotiation strategies during play and their theory of mind (ToM) development in the Hong Kong context. Forty-two 5-year-old children were recruited. Their emotional and cognitive ToMs were assessed along with expressive language ability. Children's play was observed twice in naturalistic and laboratory settings. Parents completed a questionnaire on their child's emotional and cognitive ToM development, including demographic information and social economic status indexes. The results showed that 5-year-old Hong Kong children mostly engaged in associative and cooperative play and employed two-way, reciprocal strategies in their play. Parent report of emotional ToM predicted children's play strategy in both naturalistic and laboratory settings. Child measure of cognitive ToM predicted their play strategy in the laboratory setting. The study advocates more play time in kindergarten in order to foster an empathetic generation. Copyright © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1389-1402
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number9
Early online dateApr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Wang, Z., Wong, R. K. S., Wong, P. Y. H., Ho, F. C., & Cheng, D. P. W. (2017). Play and theory of mind in early childhood: A Hong Kong perspective. Early Child Development and Care, 187(9), 1389-1402


  • Theory of mind
  • Play
  • Social strategy
  • Early childhood education


Dive into the research topics of 'Play and theory of mind in early childhood: A Hong Kong perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.