Theory of Mind

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What is Theory of Mind?
The ability to understand that other people have thoughts and feelings that are separate from our own.
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What did Piaget mean when describing children under 7 as egocentric?
They can’t understand other’s mental states and intentions, as well as being unable to take the perspective of others.
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What are primary representations?
Beliefs about the world formed by sensory experiences.
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What are secondary representations?
Beliefs about the world formed by sensory experiences.
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What does a child’s ability to engage in pretend play mean in terms of ToM?
They have a sense of what is real and what is imaginary.
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How did Harris (1991) show a child’s ability to engage in pretend play?
Child had to pretend there was a puppy in one box and a monster in the other. He then asked the child to put a finger in one of the boxes. Children were more likely to put their finger in the box with puppy in it, even though they knew it wasn't real
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What suggests that young children may not be able to differentiate between real and pretend?
Children have imaginary friends; they get scared about fantasies (e.g. TV characters).
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What is an example of a false belief task?
“A boy puts some chocolate in a drawer and goes out to play. His mother moves the chocolate to a cupboard. The boy then comes back and wants his chocolate. Where will he look for it?” Children who say the drawer understand concept of false belief.
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What are some potential issues with false belief tasks?
The child may not be familiar with the concepts used (e.g. in the mountain task); the children may understand false belief but cannot explain it, so they give wrong answers.
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What happens when children acquire ToM at around the age of 4?
They develop rules and principles which allow them to predict behaviour. This helps them to understand false belief tasks.
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Is nature or nurture a bigger influence on the development of ToM?
A combination of both biological maturation and social experiences helps to develop ToM.
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What is modularity, in relation to ToM?
The idea that humans have a module that is present from birth, but not fully functioning, that allows for the acquisition/ development of ToM. It is influenced by genes but developed by environmental factors.
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Is the module for ToM active before the age of 4?
Yes, Hamlin, Wynn & Bloom (2010) have shown that 3 month old infants show aversion to people who behave in an adverse way. This shows that they can understand the intentions of others.
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Why is understanding eye gaze important?
It allows us to judge emotions; it helps us to understand other people’s goals.
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What did Perner, Ruffman & Leekam (1994) find about 3 year olds who have siblings?
They were more likely to be correct in the false belief task than those without siblings because they are exposed more to pretend play.
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What is the main difference in the development of ToM between 2/3 year olds and 4 year olds?
2/3 year olds understand that thoughts are different from real things. 4 year olds understand that people put representations of what they believe out into the world to make sense of it.
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What did Avis & Harris (1991) find about the universality of ToM?
Used a false belief story (similar to the hidden chocolate story) that was culturally appropriate for African children. Found that most 5 year olds answered correctly, younger children found it more difficult. Suggests ToM is universal.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

What did Piaget mean when describing children under 7 as egocentric?

Back

They can’t understand other’s mental states and intentions, as well as being unable to take the perspective of others.

Card 3

Front

What are primary representations?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

What are secondary representations?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What does a child’s ability to engage in pretend play mean in terms of ToM?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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