Congratulations to Aislinn Foutz ’19 for her successful Honors in the Major and Honors Distinction Project defense last semester! Her project was titled “Parental and Peer Factors in Children’s Theory of Mind Development” and Dr. Findley-Van Nostrand was her advisor. Foutz is now working towards building off of this work and applying to graduate programs to continue studying Theory of Mind. She also has a presentation under review to present this work at the Society for Research on Child Development in the Spring.
Aislinn Foutz describes her project and how she felt about defending it below:
For my Honors in the Major/Distinction Project, I collected parent-reports of children’s theory of mind and various other parental and peer/social variables and found a number of significant associations. For instance, theory of mind was positively associated with variables such as parental willingness to serve as an attachment figure, closeness in parent-child relationships, mind-mindedness, and pro-social behavior, whereas theory of mind was negatively associated with conflict in parent-child relationships and various peer difficulties (e.g., peer problems). Follow-up analyses revealed child age, closeness, and mind-mindedness seem to be especially important to children’s theory of mind development, and that, although these associations were significant throughout early, middle, and late childhood, the closeness-theory of mind relationship was strongest in early childhood. I am aiming to extend this research in several ways, primarily by examining how various sub-types of theory of mind (e.g., belief and desire) may relate differently to these parental and peer factors.
Dr. Findley-Van Nostrand was my research mentor for this project and working with her was a great experience. Whenever I needed help, she was always readily available. She also helped me sharpen my research skills while challenging me to learn new ones.
Although I was nervous for my defense, I was also excited for the opportunity to share my research. Successfully defending my distinction/honors in the major project was a rewarding experience, and now I’m looking forward to continuing to extend this research.
Congratulations again to Aislinn Foutz ’19! Thank you for taking time to answer our questions! We look forward to seeing what you will accomplish in the future.