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4: Theory of Mind

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    1. 1 4: Theory of Mind Outline What is theory of mind? The development of theory of mind: evidence from false belief tasks Traditional explanation: representational deficit theory Empirical challenges to the false belief tasks and representational deficit theory Non-stage theories Theory of Mind module Reality Bias The response of representational deficit theorists Summary and learning outcomes

    2. 2

    4. 4 What about ToM in children? Traditional answer: children below about 4 years do not have theory of mind How do we know? False belief tests: Unexpected transfer test (Wimmer & Perner, 1983) Deceptive box test (Perner, Leekam & Wimmer, 1987; Gopnik & Astington, 1988) Appearance-reality tests: Rock-sponge test (Flavell, Flavell & Green, 1983)

    5. 5 From Mitchell, 1997

    6. 6 Representational deficit theory AKA theory-theory; theory-shift; conceptual change etc. Perner, Gopnik, Wellman ToM develops at age 4 when there is a radical shift in childrens thought processes Young children have representational deficit Evidence: false belief tasks cross-cultural research (Avis & Harris, 1991) Baka community, Cameroon ToM at 5 yrs

    7. 7 Challenges to rep. deficit theory (1) 1. Over-reliance on false belief tasks - false belief tasks flawed: children can misunderstand the question (Lewis & Osborne, 1990) children fail to understand and integrate key elements of the story (Lewis, Freeman, Hagestadt & Douglas, 1994) children do not know that seeing is believing (Wimmer, Hogrefe & Sodian, 1988) children are not able to articulate false belief (Freeman, Lewis & Doherty, 1991)

    8. 8 Challenges to rep. deficit theory (2) 2. Evidence for early ToM (before 4 years): Children perform better in naturalistic settings (Dunn, 1988) early abilities indicate proto-ToM: deception (Lewis, Stanger & Sullivan, 1989; Chandler, Fritz & Hala, 1989) communicative abilities (Butterworth & Jarrett, 1991) pretence (Leslie, 1987)

    9. 9 Challenges to rep. deficit theory (3) children can recognise lots of mental states at earlier ages than 4 years: Knowledge (vs ignorance, Leslie & Frith, 1988) Intention (Astington & Gopnik, 1991) Wanting (Wellman, 1991) Emotions like happy/sad (Harris, 1989, 1991) Seeing (Baron-Cohen, 1991) Belief = just one of the developmental transitions leading up to full ToM?

    10. 10 Challenges to rep. deficit theory (4) 3. Evidence for later development (post-4 years): Second order belief attribution (Perner & Wimmer, 1985) 4. Evidence that can vary the onset of ToM by varying task: can manipulate older children and adults to fail ToM tasks: Older children: Steverson, 1996: variant of deceptive box study Adults: Mitchell, Robinson, Isaacs & Nye, 1996: adult false belief task

    11. From Mitchell, 1997

    12. From Mitchell, 1997

    13. 13 Theory or Module? ToMM (Theory of Mind Module/Mechanism) Domain specific learning device Leslie (1987), Baron-Cohen (1995), Fodor (1992) Development of ToM is continuous process Early task failure is a result of performance limitations Evidence from autism (see lecture 5) ToMM/SP (Scholl & Leslie, 1999, 2001) ToM module: innate conception of belief and mental states Selection Processing: used to inhibit default responses i.e. that someones belief is true

    14. 14 Mitchells reality bias: ToM is product of evolution -> must be innate therefore, must be present from birth young children fail ToM tasks because are guided by reality criterion older children: reality criterion -> less prominent -> can make false belief judgements Evidence? E.g. modification of deceptive box test (Mitchell & Lacohee, 1991): standard version - 23% of 3 to 4 year olds correct modified version - 63% of 3 to 4 year olds correct

    15. From Mitchell, 1997

    16. 16 Challenges to the challengers (1) False belief tasks not flawed: manipulations are artificially boosting childrens performance by social scaffolding Even with manipulations, lots of children under 4 years still fail

    17. 17 Challenges to the challengers (2) No evidence for early theory of mind as such; showing pretence, deception, early communicative ability etc irrelevant ToM defined as ability to understand other's belief - doesnt occur until age 4 (Perner, 1991) pretence, deception etc may be over interpreted (Perner, 1991): communicative abilities pretence

    18. 18 Challenges to the challengers (3) Early abilities may be precursors to real ToM but they dont mean that the shift at age 4 doesnt exist: Gopnik, Slaughter & Meltzoff, 1994 - 4 conceptual changes in development of ToM: Before 30 months: foundational egocentric non-representational understanding of perception At 30 months: development of a form of understanding of perception and desire Three years: development of more complex understanding of desires and perspective 4 years: realise can generalise notion of misrepresentation from perspective context to belief - formation of ToM

    19. 19 Challenges to the challengers (4) Evidence for later development (post-4 years) irrelevant: c.f. puberty Evidence that can vary the onset of ToM by varying task irrelevant: Fact remains that children under 4 fail the false belief tasks (Leslie, 1987, 1991; Scholl & Leslie, 1999) Some studies not replicable (Sodian, Taylor, Harris & Perner, 1991) The available results support the claim that the same theory of mind emerges universally in the young child with approximately the same timetable (Harris, 1990).

    20. 20 Wellman et als (2001) meta-analysis 77 articles, 178 studies, 591 conditions. 6 factors influence FB task performance. Better performance if: 1) deception as motive for change 2) children carry out transformation themselves 3) target object not present when FB question asked 4) protagonists belief is explicitly stated 5) country of origin 6) emphasis of time frame (for 4+ yr olds) - where will he look first? But basic development trend still observed

    21. 21 Learning Outcomes Be able to describe and evaluate research on ToM development Be able to describe and evaluate theories of ToM development Be able to compare and contrast theories of ToM development Be aware that the issue of stage-like vs continuous development is relevant

    22. 22 Reading Essential Reading (on Digital Resources): Wellman, H.M. (2002). Understanding the psychological world: developing a theory of mind. In U. Goswami (Ed.) The Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development. Oxford: Blackwell. pp.167-187. (on Digital Resources) Lee, K. & Homer, B. (1999). Children as folk psychologists: The developing understanding of the mind. In *A. Slater & D. Muir (Eds), The Blackwell Reader in Developmental Psychology [Book on restricted loan] Further Reading See pdf handout

    23. 23 Questions to ask Is the development of ToM continuous or discontinuous? What are the different theories of the development of ToM? What does the research into ToM tell us? Does the research support the theories?