Social cognition refers to a broad range of cognitive processes and skills that allow individuals to interact with and understand others, including a variety of skills from infancy through preschool and beyond, e.g., joint attention, imitation, and belief understanding. However, no measures examine socio-cognitive development from birth through preschool. Current test batteries and parent-report measures focus either on infancy, or toddlerhood through preschool (and beyond). We report six studies in which we developed and tested a new 21-item parent-report measure of social cognition targeting 0-47 months: the Early Social Cognition Inventory (ESCI). Study 1 (N = 295) revealed the ESCI has excellent internal reliability, and a 2-factor structure capturing social cognition and age. Study 2 (N = 605) also showed excellent internal reliability, and confirmed the 2-factor structure. Study 3 (N = 84), found a medium correlation between the ESCI and a researcher-administered social cognition task battery. Study 4 (N = 46), found strong 1-month test-retest reliability. Study 5 found longitudinal stability (6 months: N = 140; 12 months: N = 39), and inter-observer reliability between parents (N = 36) was good, and children’s scores increased significantly over 6 and 12 months. Study 6 showed the ESCI was internally reliable within countries (Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States, Trinidad and Tobago); parent ethnicity; parent education; and age groups from 4-39 months. ESCI scores positively correlated with household income (UK); children with siblings had higher scores; and Australian parents reported lower scores than American, British, and Canadian parents.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank parents and children for participating. This project was funded by a University of Sheffield Women Academic Returners Program grant, and a University of Bristol Returning Carers Scheme Grant, both awarded to Elena Hoicka; as well as a PhD studentship from the Ministry of Education in Turkey, awarded to Burcu Soy Telli.
© 2021, The Author(s).
- Social cognition
- Theory of Mind
- Survey development