Essay on The Theory of Mind

1387 Words 6 Pages
Children are clever. They are not clever in the sense that they can tell is the square root of pi or write an award winning piece of literature at the age of 5, but they are immensely clever in their extremely rapid rate of learning from the day they are born. It is this rapid rate of learning that allows us to believe that children can begin to understand the minds of others and also themselves as young as 4 years old. This is usually referred to as the Theory of Mind, where a person develops the ability to connect emotional states not only to themselves but others, too and also to understand that others may have different intentions, desires or beliefs from themselves.
It seems fair to say that the more we begin to understand our own
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The first experiment carried out to test the theory of mind is Wimmer and Perner’s unexpected transfer test (1983), where children between the ages of 3 and 9 were told a story about a boy called Maxi. His mother put some chocolate into a blue cupboard, and then when Maxi has left the kitchen, she moves the chocolate into the green cupboard. When Maxi comes back wanting some chocolate, the children are asked which cupboard Maxi will look in for the chocolate. The results of this test showed that children age 3-4 generally failed the test and pointed to the actual position of the chocolate, failing to understand that Maxi didn’t know where the chocolate was even though they did, suggesting that children at this age are not capable of a theory of mind. Results changed significantly for children aged 4-5, when the majority of children pointed at the cupboard where Maxi thought the chocolate was. This is therefore consistent with the assumption that children develop a theory of mind around the age of 4 . However, certain problems arise with this task, the main one being that the story is told with dolls, suggesting that children may take the story literally and assume the common knowledge that dolls do not have minds and therefore the doll will look in the cupboard where the chocolate is . Other problems arise in the issue that the children may not have concentrated fully on the story, and

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