A Child's Theory of Mind
Haverford College. Department of Psychology
Place of Publication
Table of Contents
Haverford users only
The purpose of the present experiment was to study children's theory of mind or their ability to attribute mental states to themselves and to others. Two tasks were used to test the theory of mind: the false belief task, the standard test for a theory of mind and the false pretend task, a newer version of the false belief task which employs pretense. The effects of perceptual pull and desire on task performance were also studied. The subjects of the experiment were twenty-seven preschoolers ages three, four and five. The major findings of this study showed that children's performance on these theory of mind tasks improves significantly between the third and fourth years. These results support a view claiming that children become more conceptually developed in this time period. In contrast to previous findings, the false belief task was also shown to be easier than the false pretend task. Future research needs to be conducted to determine under what conditions a child can and cannot use their theory of mind.