Children’s Application of Theory of Mind in Reasoning and Language
Many social situations require a mental model of the knowledge, beliefs, goals, and intentions of others: a Theory of Mind (ToM). If a person can reason about other people’s beliefs about his own beliefs or intentions, he is demonstrating second-order ToM reasoning. A standard task to test second-order ToM reasoning is the second-order false belief task. A different approach to investigating ToM reasoning is through its application in a strategic game. Another task that is believed to involve the application of second-order ToM is the comprehension of sentences that the hearer can only understand by considering the speaker’s alternatives. In this study we tested 40 children between 8 and 10 years old and 27 adult controls on (adaptations of) the three tasks mentioned above: the false belief task, a strategic game, and a sentence comprehension task. The results show interesting differences between adults and children, between the three tasks, and between this study and previous research.
KeywordsFalse belief Second-order reasoning Sentence comprehension Strategic game Theory of Mind
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