Neurosociology and Theory of Mind (ToM)

  • Rosemary L. Hopcroft
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Theory of mind (ToM) is the term used by cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists to describe a person’s ability to understand another person’s mental states. It is importantly involved in empathy and any behavior that takes into consideration the likely reaction of others. In this chapter, I describe the standard test used to gauge a child’s ToM, the false belief test. I trace the typical development of ToM in young children and discuss theories of this development. I discuss the association of ToM with language learning, brain bases of ToM, and the lack of development of ToM in autistic children. Last, I discuss the relevance of the development of ToM in children for sociological work on the emergence of the self, as well as other sociological perspectives.


Autistic Child Mirror Neuron Mirror Neuron System Pretend Play False Belief Task 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departmet of SociologyUniversity of North CarolinaCharlotteUSA

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