The mechanism of inhibitory control on the development of theory of mind in old age-based on the two-component model of psychological theory.


Zhou W(1), Hong Z(1), Chen D(1), Liu S(2), Zhang L(1).
Author information:
(1)Department and Institute of Psychology, Ningbo University, Ningbo, China.
(2)School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China.


OBJECTIVE: Based on the two-component model of theory of mind, the current study explored the cognitive and emotional theory of mind of the elderly by using false-belief pictures and eye-reading tasks respectively, and examined effects of inhibitory control on elderly adults' cognitive and emotional theory of mind. METHOD: One-hundred twelve elderly participants were randomly recruited, and the control task, cognitive theory of mind, emotional theory of mind and the Stroop task were used. RESULTS: The results showed the following: (1) Elderly adults' theory of mind decreased compared with that of young people; specifically, cognitive theory of mind showed an aging trend (aged above 75 years), while emotional theory of mind developed at a relatively gentle speed during old age; (2) Compared with young people, the inhibitory control of the elderly gently declined among those aged above 75 years; (3) Inhibitory control partially mediated the relationship between age and cognitive theory of mind. CONCLUSION: The cognitive and emotional components of theory of mind in the elderly were distinct. It was difficult for the elderly to complete psychological tasks related to social cognition that required high inhibitory control; however, they could complete psychological tasks that did not require high inhibitory control.