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Theory of Mind

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Bibliography Citation

American Psychological Association (APA). (2008).Theory-of-Mind Development Influences Suggestibility and Source Monitoring. Retrieved April 1, 2009, from http://csaweb116v.csa.com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/ids70/view_record.php?id=4&recnum=24&log=from_toc&SID=vj88pmiu8pf9lb2artov45nom7&mark_id=cache%3A3%2C0%2C39.

Theory of Mind

Theory of mind is the ability to ascribe mental states to oneself and others and to comprehend that others have beliefs, desires and objections that are different from one's own. The topic of the professional journal I read is to define or find a correlation between age, theory of mind and suggestibility.

One of the most observable aspects of eyewitness memory literature is the post event misinformation effect. This effect is clear with both adults and children, however research suggests that the younger the child, the more vulnerable they tend to be. This effect has been researched and one aspect that seems to best explain these variations is the development of the theory of mind.

A study conducted by Wimmer and Perner (1983), called the false-belief task, sought to find when one was able to recognize that other people can have beliefs about the world that are false. To do this the ability to understand how knowledge is formed is required, and that people's beliefs are based on their knowledge of the world. The purpose of these studies is to eliminate tasks that are too cognitively demanding so the results of the tests are based only on the development of theory of mind.

In one study, there are two dolls playing with a marble shown to the children, the dolls then but the marble in a box, and one of the dolls leaves. The other doll still present takes the marble back out, plays with it, and then proceeds to put it back into a different box. Later the first doll to leave returns, and the children are asked where the doll will think the marble is.

The child will pass the task if he or she says that the doll will check in the first box when it put the marble, however if the child believes it is in the second box where the second doll placed it, the child fails the task. In order to pass the task, the child must be able to predict another's behavior based on the understanding that another's mental image of a situation is different than their own. This task usually can be completed successfully by children ages 3 to 4.

This article is important to our understanding of correlations between the development of theory of mind, related to suggestibility. As children develop their source monitoring, theory of mind is improved, thus they do better on false-belief tasks. The false-belief task represented in the article is similar to the appearance-reality task represented in our textbook, however it finds evidence of theory of mind at a younger age.

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