Efeitos do ensino do responder relacional dêitico sobre o desempenho de crianças pré-escolares em tarefas de teoria da mente
Vieira, Susane Vitória Gonçalves
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Theory of Mind is the ability to attribute mental states to self and other individuals which, in turn, allows one to predict human behavior. Researchers who base their work on Relational Framing Theory claim that Perspective Taking is the core of Theory of Mind. Perspective Taking is based on a particular pattern of relational deictic response established by training I-You, Here-There, Now-Than frames. Few studies so far investigated the relation between Perspective Taking training and performance in Theory of Mind tasks, and findings are divergent. The present work aimed to test if adaptations in Perspective Taking Protocol (RFT-PT), such as the use of prompts, can be useful for teaching relational responding. The second goal was to test if this version of the protocol improves Brazilian preschoolers’ performance in Theory of Mind tasks. Two studies were conducted. In each study, two 4-year-old children with poor performance in Theory of Mind tasks participated. The procedure in both studies included Theory of Mind tasks before and after the RFT-PT application. The protocol consisted in teaching two of the three levels of deictic relational complexity: simple and reverse levels. Blocks of trials were used to teach the three frames according to the relational level. Pre-test and post-test were conducted to assess the learning of relational responding by all four participants. In the first study, the number of trials per level was higher, in addition, the trials were first presented with physical prompts and then without any prompt. One participant presented difficulty at the simple level and the other one at the reverse level. Both completed the procedure in the second reverse level training block. The prompts did not prove to be efficient for the teaching of relational deictic responding. Additionally, no differences were found between the initial and final Theory of Mind and PT-RFT measures. Based on the first study, other modifications were made to the second study, such as the gradual withdrawal of prompts and reduction of number of trials at the reverse level. Only one participant completed the procedure. After the reverse level training, the participant reached post-test learning criterion only in the Now-Than frame. There was no change in Theory of Mind performance between pre-test and post-test tasks. In summary, participants in the present study had difficulty responding to the protocol even with the help of prompts. Additionally, perspective taking training was not followed by improvement in participants' performance. These results suggest that the original protocol may not be appropriate for some children and that new directions of investigation should be explored.
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