Exploring the Specificity of Age-Related Differences in Theory of Mind Tasks

Gillian Slessor, Louise Helen Phillips, Rebecca Bull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Tasks assessing theory of mind (ToM) and non–mental state control tasks were administered to young and older adults to examine previous contradictory findings about age differences in mental state decoding. Age differences were found on a verbal ToM task after controlling for vocabulary levels. Older adults achieved significantly lower scores than did younger adults on static and dynamic visual ToM
tasks, and a similar pattern was found on non-ToM control tasks. Rather than a specific ToM deficit, older adults exhibited a more general impairment in the ability to decode cues from verbal and visual information about people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-643
Number of pages5
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007


  • social understanding
  • aging
  • theory of mind
  • emotion


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