Susan M. Spicer, Fielding's School of Psychology
Tests of gestalt completion, affect recognition, and theory of mind were administered to 322 children ages 4 to 8. There was consistent improvement in gestaltic ability over this age range, but the performance of children at age 8 was significantly below the previously found adult level. Affect recognition and theory of mind also showed improvement, but the development for neither was uniform. Affect recognition showed a plateau at ages 5-6. Theory of mind appeared to develop in two spurts, 4-5 and 6-7. Abilities in affect recognition and gestaltic closure were related at ages 5-7, but not at ages 4 or 8. There were no significant relationships between gestaltic ability and theory of mind at any age, indicating that the development of these abilities occur independently in normal children through this age range. The ramifications of these results are discussed.
KEY WORDS: Gestaltic Completion, Gestaltic Closure, Affect Recognition, Theory of Mind, Right Hemisphere, Developmental Trajectory