Children's Theories of Mind: Mental States and Social Understanding

Children's Theories of Mind: Mental States and Social Understanding

Children's Theories of Mind: Mental States and Social Understanding

Children's Theories of Mind: Mental States and Social Understanding

Synopsis

This book is a result of a study group that met to discuss the child's theory of mind. A topic whose effects span cognitive, language, and social development, it may bring a unifying influence to developmental psychology. New studies in this area acknowledge children's conceptions of intention and belief, as well as intention and belief themselves, and consider the explanations they provide for children's developing abilities. The contributors to this important volume examine several aspects of the child's theory of mind, and present significant research findings on the theory itself and how it changes and develops for each child. Discussions of the utility of a theory of mind to the child, and to developmental psychologists trying to understand children, are provided. Finally, new explanations are offered for how children acquire a theory of mind in the first place.

Excerpt

Recent work on children's theories of mind has refreshed the study of the mental life of the child. The new research acknowledges the child's conceptions of intention and belief, as well intention and belief themselves, and considers the explanations they provide for the developing abilities of the child. Effects of the child's theory of mind spread across cognitive, language, and social development. The topic, therefore, holds the promise of bringing a unifying influence to developmental psychology. This book on the child's theory of mind began its life as a study group that met for several days in March, 1988 at Yale University. Sponsorship by the Society for Research in Child Development and the Foundation for Child Development was critical to the success of the project. It allowed the group to be international in composition; a necessity when laboratories in Canada, the United States, England, and Europe are all engaged in the research. It also permitted us to meet and talk before committing our thoughts irretrievably to paper. This procedure, we believe, was responsible for the new speculations on the acquisition of theories of mind that made their way into the contributions between the first discussions and the final drafts. We thank Judi Amsel and Debra Ruel at Lawrence Erlbaum Associates for their excellent supervision of the published result.

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