What’s the Evidence Say? The Relation Between Evidential-Trust and Theory of Mind

Çelik B., Ergut N., Allen J. W.

Journal of Cognition and Development, vol.25, no.3, pp.303-322, 2024 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/15248372.2023.2260874
  • Journal Name: Journal of Cognition and Development
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.303-322
  • Keywords: evidential markers, reliability, selective trust, theory of mind, Turkish
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


Previous research has shown that linguistic cues such as mental and modal verbs can influence young children’s judgments about the reliability of informants. Further, certain languages include grammatical morphemes (i.e. evidential markers), which clarify the source of information coming from testimony (e.g., Bulgarian, Japanese, Turkish). Accordingly, the first aim of the current study is to examine whether Turkish-speaking children’s reliability judgments change based on evidential markers (i.e. the past-tense direct evidential marker, –DI, and the past-tense indirect evidential marker, –mIş). The literature has also investigated whether selective trust abilities are related to understanding the epistemic states of others (i.e., Theory of Mind). Therefore, the second aim is to examine the relation between selective trust based on evidential markers and ToM abilities by including a comprehensive ToM battery. Eighty-six Turkish-speaking preschool and elementary school children between the ages of 4 and 7, residing in a metropolitan city in Turkey, participated in a selective trust task based on evidential markers, a general language task, and a ToM battery. The results of the current study showed that after the age of 6, Turkish-speaking children start to selectively trust the informant using the past-tense direct evidential marker, –DI, over the past-tense indirect evidential marker, –mIş. Selective trust performance was related to receptive vocabulary but not to ToM abilities after controlling for participant gender and age. Overall, the results contribute to current discussions about children’s selective trust ability based on linguistic cues and its relation with ToM.