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Title: The role of language in preschool children's theory-of-mind of development
Author: Slade, Lance
ISNI:       0000 0001 2439 0080
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2005
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Theory of Mind: What is it, When Does it Develop and Who has it? Theory of mind is generally characterised as mental state understanding, i.e., the ability to impute mental states to the self and to others in order to predict and explain behaviour (e.g., Premack & Woodruff, 1978) and has also been referred to as folk psychology (e.g., Wellman, 1990) and mindreading (e.g., Baron-Cohen, 1995). Whilst researchers often stress a broad range of mental states involved in theory-of-mind understanding involving, for example, intentions, emotions, desires and beliefs (e.g., Astington, 2000) or desire and beliefs (e.g., Church land, 1984; Wellman, 1990) and acknowledge that theory-of-mind development is a lifelong process (e.g., Astington, 2001), much research has focused on theory of mind defined more narrowly as false belief understanding, during the preschool period. False belief understanding, i.e., understanding that someone can hold a false or mistaken belief about something, and furthermore will act on that mistaken belief, is demonstrated by a child's performance on the now classic "false belief' task (Baron-Cohen, Leslie, & Frith, 1985; Wimmer & Perner, 1983) A child sees a story character, e.g. Sally, playing with a ball and then leave it at a certain location. Whilst she is away, Anne comes along and moves the ball to another location. When Sally returns, the child is asked "Where will Sally look for her ball?" together with some control questions to make sure the child has followed the story. The ability to pass this task is taken as a clear and robust indicator that the child understands that the mind (i.e., what someone thinks is the case) is separate from the world (what actually is the case). In other words, the child is able to demonstrate a genuinely mentalistic understanding of behaviour, i.e., that they unequivocally take the mental state of another person into account when explaining or predicting their behaviour (Perner, 1991).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available