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Theory of Mind

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Stevie Howell

on 3 February 2014

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Transcript of Theory of Mind

Theory of Mind
What is Theory of Mind?
A brief history of Theory of Mind
Theory of Mind and Autism
Theory of Mind and Culture
Theory of Mind and Schizophrenia

Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, L. and Frith, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a “theory of mind”?
Cognition, 21
, 37–46.

Cefalu, P. (2013). The Burdens of Mind Reading in Shakespeare’s Othello: A Cognitive and Psychoanalytic Approach to Iago’s Theory of Mind.
Shakespeare Quarterly 64
(3), 265–294. The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Corballis, Michael C. (2013).
A Very Short Tour of the Mind.
New York: The Overlook Press.

Dennett, D. (1978). Beliefs about beliefs.
Behaviour and Brain Sciences
, 568–70.

Dungan, J., & Saxe, R. (2012). Matched false-belief performance during verbal and nonverbal interference.
Cognitive Science, 36
(6), 1148


Happé, G. E., Winner, E., Brownell, H. (1998). The getting of wisdom: Theory of mind in old age.
Developmental Psychology, 34
(2), 358


Howlin, P., Baron-Cohen, S., & Hadwin, J. (1999).
Teaching children with autism to mind-read: A practical guide.
New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Pezzuti, L., Longobardi, E., Milletti, K., & Ovidi, A. (2011). A study about the theory of mind in primary and secondary aging.
Life Span and Disability, 14
(1), 31–44.

Suzuki, A., Koyasu, M., & An, N. (2004). Development of understanding of others' intention, social problem solving abilities, and "theory of mind" in young children.
Japanese Journal of Developmental Psychology, 15
(3), 292–301.

Verbrugge, R., and Mol, L. (2008). Learning to Apply Theory of Mind.
Journal of Logic, Language, and Information, 17(
4), 489–511.
Theory of Mind and Aging
How is Theory of Mind measured?
For Theory of Mind, the arts are the mental equivalent of a physical workout
The ability to posit the ideas, beliefs, and feelings of others
Possibly involves mirror neurons
Inability called "mind-blindness"
Is a factor in:
Empathy vs. manipulation
Forgiveness vs. moral judgement
Involves exogenous attention
"Confers fitness," (Celafu, 2013)
Has been referred to traditionally as part of "folk psychology," (Pezzuti, Longobardi, Milletti, Ovidi, 2011)
"Theory of Mind" pioneered by Alison Gopnik (UC Berkley), a blend of psychology and philosophy
Logic not sufficient model for human reasoning (Verbrugge & Mol, 2008)
First (and most) research with children <5 years old
Has been referred to as "beliefs about beliefs" (Dennett, 1978; Wimmer & Perner, 1983)
Was examined in psychoanalyic terms ("the subconscious")
At 5 years old, children are able to anticipate another person reacting differently than themselves
Research has lagged from ages 7+ to older adults
Current research includes imaging studies looking at:
Mirror Neurons
Right temporoparietal junction (RTPJ)
Researchers disrupted the RTPJ with rTMS and changing beliefs and attitudes
Subjects’ ability to make moral judgments that require an understanding of other people’s intentions — for example, a failed murder attempt — was impaired" (MIT, 2010).
Is Theory of Mind what we call "wisdom"? Does Theory of Mind exhibit decline with aging, or is it preserved?
Study of 61-80 year olds (Happe, Winner, & Brownell, 1998):
Stories that contain bluffs, mistakes, white lies
Task was to infer characters' thoughts, feelings, and intentions

"Theory of Mind is preserved and even superior in healthy individuals compared to younger individuals"
Now viewed as a kind of "social neuroscience" or "social cognition"
Right temporoparietal junction (RTPJ) may play an important role in theory of mind abilities.
Howlin, Baron-Cohen and Hadwin developed
Teaching Children with Autism to Mind-Read: A Practical Guide
Frith (1992) argues that several symptoms of schizophrenia could be explained by "mentalising impairment."
‘Emotion and ToM Imitation Training’ (ETIT) to patients with schizophrenia
How is Theory of Mind measured?
How is Theory of Mind measured?
Classic tests include lab experiments looking at second- and third-order thinking
False Belief Test
False Photograph Test
Appearance-Reality Test
Sally-Anne Test
Just as Theory of Mind affects the day-to-day, it contributes to culture
Theory of Mind is instrumental in the creation and enjoyment of art
Artists have known this for centuries, eg. Shakespeare's
Now this can be quantified: "6 degrees of separation" / the "Dunbar number"
Stevie Howell
February 4, 2014
Improved social functioning and cognition, even in high-risk group
Small study, much more work is needed
Full transcript