Theory of Mind (ToM) reflects the ability to accurately infer others’ mental states. The five factor personality traits, particularly Neuroticism and Agreeableness, have been associated with ToM in previous studies; however, that research failed to control for vocabulary knowledge and only used one measure to assess ToM. We aimed to re-investigate the relationship between personality factors and ToM while controlling for vocabulary knowledge, using a multimethod approach to measure ToM, extending the research to include older adults, and exploring mediators and moderators. In our sample (N = 179; 91 younger adults, 88 older adults), Neuroticism did not have a main effect on ToM. While more Agreeable older adults tended to have better cognitive ToM, more Agreeable younger adults had worse cognitive ToM. Empathy did not mediate the relationship between Agreeableness and cognitive ToM, and anxiety symptoms did not moderate the association between Neuroticism and cognitive ToM. These findings have implications for older adult health and wellbeing.
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Thesis advisor: Chapman, Alexander
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