Young Mindreaders

Dr Lorna Hamilton and Dr Nicola Cutting currently have an opportunity for 9- to 12-year-old children to take part in their exciting new study. The study will investigate the link between children’s reading behaviours and their understanding of the social world.

Young MindreadersWhat is the purpose of the study?

The aim of this study is to explore the relationships between children’s reading skills, the amount and type of reading they do, and their ability to understand other people’s perspectives and behaviours (“mentalising” skills). Previous research has indicated that reading storybooks to very young children is associated with the early development of children’s understanding of other people’s thoughts, beliefs and feelings. Similarly, adults who read more narrative fiction show enhanced empathising skills. This study aims to examine the relationship between reading skills (e.g. comprehension), reading habits (e.g. what kind of material they enjoy reading) and mentalising skills (e.g. understanding other people’s thoughts, intentions, desires and emotions) in children aged 9-12 years, a period of rapid development of social understanding and competence. The findings of this study have the potential to add to scientific knowledge about the effects of reading on children’s cognition, and to inform educational practice.

What will my child be asked to do if they take part?

If you and your child decide to take part your child will be asked to complete a number of short activities. These activities include reading short passages and answering some simple questions, narrating a story from a picture book, completing some picture tasks and filling out questionnaires about their reading habits. This can take place in your child’s school, at home, or at York St John University depending on which is most convenient for you. Taking part in this study will take approximately one hour. Your child will be given a £5 Amazon voucher at the end of the session, as a thank-you for taking part and we will reimburse any travel costs.

Will my data be anonymous and confidential?

Yes, any data collected will be anonymous and confidential, and will also be stored securely. Your child will be given a participant ID number so that no identifying information is stored with their data. The researchers will be the only individuals able to access any data collected. The numerical data collected (i.e. children’s scores on the tasks) will be analysed statistically in order to examine the relationships between reading skills, reading habits, and mentalising skills in children.

We are not at liberty to provide personal results or individualised feedback on any measures taken in the study. However, if you would like to receive a copy of the research findings at the end of the study, you can do so by contacting the lead researchers (contact details below).

Does my child have to take part?

No, your child does not have to take part; participation is voluntary. You can refuse or withdraw from the study at any point. If you wish to withdraw your data after the study, you can contact the researchers and your child’s data will be discarded from the study and destroyed.

This study has received ethical approval from the York St John University cross-schools research ethics committee for Psychology.

If your child is interested in taking part, please email devpsych@yorksj.ac.uk for more information.