Theory of mind, the ability to understand mental states, involves inferences about others' cognitive (cognitive theory of mind) and emotional (affective theory of mind) mental states. The current study explored the role of executive functions in developing affective theory of mind across adolescence. Affective theory of mind and three subcomponents of executive functions (inhibition, updating, and shifting) were measured. Affective theory of mind was positively related to age, and all three executive functions. Specifically, inhibition explained the largest amount of variance in age-related differences in affective theory of mind.
Vetter, N. C., Altgassen, M., Phillips, L., Mahy, C. E. V., & Kliegel, M. (2013). Development of affective theory of mind across adolescence: disentangling the role of executive functions. Developmental Neuropsychology, 38(2), 114-125. https://doi.org/10.1080/87565641.2012.733786