Visuospatial perspective-taking in social-emotional development: Enhancing young children’s mind and emotion understanding via block building training

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Background: Theory of Mind (ToM) refers to the ability to represent one's own and others' mental states, and emotion understanding involves appropriately comprehending and responding to others' emotional cues in social interactions. Individual differences in mind and emotion understanding have been associated strongly with verbal ability and interaction and, as such, existing training for children's ToM and emotion understanding is mostly language-based. Building on the literature on embodied cognition, this study proposes that mind and emotion understanding could be facilitated by one's visuospatial experience in simulating other's frames of reference.
Methods: This protocol consists of two training studies. Study 1 will examine if visuospatial perspective-taking training promotes ToM and emotion understanding. Participants will consist of 96 4.5-year-olds and will be randomly assigned to one of two training groups: the altercentric block building group (trained to be visuospatial perspective-takers), or the egocentric block building group (no visuospatial perspective-taking is involved). Study 2 will compare the engagement of visuospatial perspective-taking and verbal interaction in the development of mind and emotion understanding. Participants will consist of 120 4.5-year-olds. They will be randomly assigned to one of three training groups: the socialized altercentric block building (both visuospatial perspective-taking and verbal interaction), the parallel altercentric block building (visuospatial perspective-taking only), or the paired dialogic reading (verbal interaction only).
Conclusions: In terms of theoretical implications, the potential causal relationship between visuospatial perspective-taking and ToM and emotion understanding may shed new insights on what underlies the development of mental state understanding. The findings of this study also have practical implications: researchers and educators may popularize visuospatial perspective-taking training in the form of block-building games if it is found to be effective in complementing conventional language-based theory-of-mind training. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Article number264
JournalBMC Psychology
Volume10
Early online date12 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Citation

Caldwell, M. P., Cheung, H., Cheung, S.‑K., Li, J.‑B., & Siu, T.‑S. C. (2022). Visuospatial perspective-taking in social-emotional development: Enhancing young children’s mind and emotion understanding via block building training. BMC Psychology, 10. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-022-00976-5

Keywords

  • Theory of mind
  • Emotion understanding
  • Visuospatial perspective-taking
  • Social-emotional development
  • Psychological perspective-taking
  • Block building

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