Training older adults on Theory of Mind (ToM): Transfer on metamemory

Serena Lecce, Sara Bottiroli, Federica Bianco, Alessia Rosi, Elena Cavallini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Research on aging has shown a significant decline in ToM after 65 years of age. Despite these age-related difficulties, no study has yet investigated the possibility to improve ToM in older adults. To address this gap we tested the efficacy of a conversation-based ToM training with age-appropriate ToM tasks and its transfer effects on metamemory. Method: We examined 72 older adults (Mage = 67.61 years, SD = 6.39 years) assigned to three training conditions: a ToM training, a physical-conversation training and a social-contact group. All participants took part in two 2-h testing and to two 2-h training sessions. Results: Results showed that after the intervention, older adults in the ToM training group improved their mental states' understanding significantly more than participants in the physical-conversation training and in the social-contact groups. Crucially, the positive effect of the ToM intervention generalized to metamemory knowledge. Conclusions: This is the first study investigating the efficacy of a ToM training and its transfer effect on metacognition in older adults. From a theoretical point of view, it supports the relation between ToM and metamemory. Practical implications of these data are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-226
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Aging
  • Mental states conversation
  • Metamemory
  • ToM training
  • Transfer effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Health(social science)
  • Gerontology


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