Understanding of Others

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Early Development

Imitation - Meltzoff and Moors (1989) found newborns less than 72 hours old can imitate an experimenters facial expressions such as mouth opening, as well as manual guestures such as hand opening. 

Intentions - Infants as young as 3 months can follow a persons gaze, and at the age of one can follow a gaze and pointing gestures to objects. Carpenter et al (2001) did this study with autistic children and found little difference; showing this is seperate to ToM.

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Egocentricity - Piaget described a pre-operational child as egocentric (age 4). However Hughes showed that younger children could show percepctive taking is given a social context. Perceptual (3 mountains task) conceptual (Sally Anne)

Role Taking - (conceptual perspective-taking) is a cognitive skill involving a childs understanding about other people's internal experiences. Selman (1979) used dilemmas such as the Holly tree climbing situation and explored childrens reasonings when faced with conflicting feelings. From this he devised a stage based theory showing how as children grow older they can see the perspectives of more people.

Role Taking and Social Development - Selman argued this was crutial for children to create prosocial behaviour.

Deception - Cole (1986) found children aged 3 can hide their disappointment of a present when the giver is in the same room; suggesting they understand their perspective.

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Seperate Modules - one view is that these stages are seperate biological modules. This is shown with Carpenter et al (2001) study which showed autistic children can develop an understanding of intentions but not ToM.

Interdependance - suggests that the stages are more of a continuum, so for example perceptual perspective-taking is needed for ToM. Eide (2006) found some children with sensory impairments dont develop ToM until adolescanc, this might be because their percepective taking is impaired.

Role taking skills - Schaffer (202) suggests role-taking is crutial for successful relationships. Decelption could be evolutionary (Machaivellian intelligence) where animals can be seen to decieve others to survive.

Real-world application - Selman (2003) said that role taking should be used more in schools to help improve relationships, for example through play. Social Skills Training (SST) are used for older children to help relationships. These are also used for criminals as they could lack the ability to take on the role of others and therefore lack empathy. 

Nurture and Nature - biological maturation and experience (for example deaf children).

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