Socio-demographic and political predictors of Theory of Mind in adulthood

Rachel A. Clutterbuck, Mitchell J. Callan, Punit Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individual differences in Theory of Mind (ToM)–the ability to understand the mental states of others–are theorised to be predicted by socio-demographic and political factors. However, inconsistent findings on the relationships between various socio-demographic predictors and ToM, as well as a paucity of research on political predictors of ToM, have left a gap in the literature. Using a recently validated self-report measure of ToM in a large sample (N = 4202) we investigated the unique contributions of age, sex, socio-economic status, and political beliefs to ToM in adults. Except for age, all variables were correlated with ToM, but when accounting for the variance of other predictors in statistical analyses, political beliefs was no longer associated with ToM. Dominance analysis revealed that participant sex was the most important predictor of ToM. These findings help to address theoretical discrepancies in the existing literature and inform future methods and directions in social cognition research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0284960
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
RAC is funded by a doctoral studentship from the Economic and Social Research Council ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Data availability:
Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting information files.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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