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What is "theory of mind" and can it be measured?

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A dominant view in the literature is that theory of mind consists in a set of mental concepts – of belief, desire etc. – and that children pass basic tests for these concepts by 6 years of age. Therefore, one of the challenges facing researchers who wish to study theory of mind is how to conceptualise theory of mind in a way that allows for basic concept development and continuing change. I will suggest that we should distinguish between conceptual, cognitive and individual difference approaches to theory of mind, which each have different implications for task development and interpretation. And I will discuss evidence from our own work on cognitive changes in theory of mind in children who already have the relevant concepts.

This talk is part of the Psychology & Education series.

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