Volume 33, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0929-7332
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9919


It has been argued (e.g., by De Villiers and colleagues) that the acquisition of sentence embedding is necessary for the development of first-order Theory of Mind (ToM): the ability to attribute beliefs to others. This raises the question whether the acquisition of double embedded sentences is related to, and perhaps even necessary for, the development of second-order ToM: the ability to attribute beliefs about beliefs to others. This study tested 55 children (aged 7-10) on their ToM understanding in a false-belief task and on their elicited production of sentence embeddings. We found that second-order ToM passers produced mainly double embeddings, whereas first-order ToM passers produced mainly single embeddings. Furthermore, a better performance on second-order ToM predicted a higher rate of double embeddings and a lower rate of single embeddings in the production task. We conclude that children’s ability to produce double embeddings is related to their development of second-order ToM.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): false-belief task; Language acquisition; sentence embedding; Theory of Mind
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