We still know very little about the longitudinal relationships between Theory of Mind (ToM) and metaphor understanding in typically developing children. We examined this issue by using a short-term longitudinal design, and by distinguishing between metaphor accuracy (the ability to understand metaphors) and specificity of mental interpretation (the ability to interpret mentally mental, but not physical metaphors). We also distinguished between ToM and the ability to make inferences about physical states. 54 typically developing children (aged 8;6–9;4 years) were tested at baseline and 6 months later. Results showed that metaphor accuracy and inferential skills about physical states were bi-directionally related over time, whereas early specificity of mental interpretation predicted later ToM (and not vice versa). We conclude that: (a) metaphor comprehension and general inferential abilities develop side by side in a mutually supportive way; and (b) the tendency to mentally interpret mental metaphors is a driving factor in ToM development.
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