Children’s Application of Theory of Mind in Reasoning and Language

Many social situations require a mental model of the knowledge, beliefs, goals, and intentions of others: a Theory of Mind (ToM). If a person can reason about other people’s beliefs about his own beliefs or intentions, he is demonstrating second-order ToM reasoning. A standard task to test second-order ToM reasoning is the second-order false belief task. A different approach to investigating ToM reasoning is through its application in a strategic game. Another task that is believed to involve the application of second-order ToM is the comprehension of sentences that the hearer can only understand by considering the speaker’s alternatives. In this study, we tested 40 children between 8 and 10 years old and 27 adult controls on (adaptations of) the three tasks mentioned above: the false belief task, a strategic game, and a sentence comprehension task. The results show interesting differences between adults and children, between the three tasks, and between this study and previous research.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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