About this topic
Summary Theory of Mind and Folk Psychology describe our capacity to understand and interact with other agents. One important way we make sense of other agents' behavior is by attributing various mental states to them and explaining and predicting their behavior on the basis of these attributed mental states.This is called mindreading. The main debates at issue in this area are (i) the general nature of our ability to understand and interact with other agents, (ii) theories of how we attribute mental states, e.g., Theory Theory or Simulation Theory, (iii) the ontogenetic development of our folk psychological and mindreading skills, (iv) the nature of the mental state concepts we employ in folk psychology, and (v) skepticism about the propositional attitudes folk psychology attributes to agents.
Key works Two books that have served as pillars of the debate about theory of mind and folk psychology are Davies & Stone 1995 and Davies & Stone 1995. These two volumes contain essays that defined the relevant debates and gave shape to the field. More contemporary works that have had a significant impact on the field are Nichols & Stich 2003:Mindreading and I. Goldman 2006:Simulating Minds. These two books present different accounts of the nature of our folk psychological practices, how we attribute mental states, the ontogenetic and phylogenetic development of folk psychology, introspection, and a host of other issues. These works have had an enormous impact on both general and specific theories of theory of mind and folk psychology.
Related categories

1422 found
1 — 50 / 1422
Material to categorize
  1. On Mechanisms of Human Behavior: The “Mind Blindness Phenomenon” in Philosophy, Religion, Science, and Medicine.Bechor Zvi Aminoff - 2015 - Philosophy Study 5 (3).
  2. Chimpanzees Are Sensitive to Some of the Psychological States of Others.Josep Call - 2005 - Interaction Studiesinteraction Studies Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems 6 (3):413-427.
  3. When Do Circumstances Excuse? Moral Prejudices and Beliefs About the True Self Drive Preferences for Agency-Minimizing Explanations.Simon Cullen - forthcoming - Cognition.
    When explaining human actions, people usually focus on a small subset of potential causes. What leads us to prefer certain explanations for valenced actions over others? The present studies indicate that our moral attitudes often predict our explanatory preferences far better than our beliefs about how causally sensitive actions are to features of the actor's environment. Study 1 found that high-prejudice participants were much more likely to endorse non-agential explanations of an erotic same-sex encounter, such as that one of the (...)
  4. Beliefs as Inner Causes: The (Lack of) Evidence.Devin Sanchez Curry - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology:1-28.
    Many psychologists studying lay belief attribution and behavior explanation cite Donald Davidson in support of their assumption that people construe beliefs as inner causes. But Davidson’s influential argument is unsound; there are no objective grounds for the intuition that the folk construe beliefs as inner causes that produce behavior. Indeed, recent experimental work by Ian Apperly, Bertram Malle, Henry Wellman, and Tania Lombrozo provides an empirical framework that accords well with Gilbert Ryle’s alternative thesis that the folk construe beliefs as (...)
  5. Interventionism for the Intentional Stance: True Believers and Their Brains.Markus I. Eronen - forthcoming - Topoi:1-11.
    The relationship between psychological states and the brain remains an unresolved issue in philosophy of psychology. One appealing solution that has been influential both in science and in philosophy is Dennett’s concept of the intentional stance, according to which beliefs and desires are real and objective phenomena, but not necessarily states of the brain. A fundamental shortcoming of this approach is that it does not seem to leave any causal role for beliefs and desires in influencing behavior. In this paper, (...)
  6. “Take Away the Life-Lie … “: Positive Illusions and Creative Self-Deception.David A. Jopling - 1996 - Philosophical Psychology 9 (4):525 – 544.
    In a well-known paper “Illusion and well-being”, Taylor and Brown maintain that positive illusions about the self play a significant role in the maintenance of mental health, as well as in the ability to maintain caring inter-personal relations and a sense of well-being. These illusions include unrealistically positive self-evaluations, exaggerated perceptions of personal control, and unrealistic optimism about one's future. Accurate self-knowledge, they maintain, is not an indispensable ingredient of mental health and well-being. Two lines of criticism are directed against (...)
  7. Naturalismus und Intentionalität.Geert Keil - 2000 - In Geert Keil & Herbert Schnädelbach (eds.), Naturalismus. Suhrkamp. pp. 187-204.
    Naturalism in theoretical philosophy comes in three kinds: metaphysical, scientific and semantical. Metaphysical naturalism holds that only natural things exist, scientific (or methodological) naturalism holds that the methods of natural science provide the only avenue to truth, semantic (or analytic) naturalism tries to provide sufficient nonintentional conditions for intentional phenomena. The paper argues that analytic naturalism does not render metaphysical or scientific naturalism obsolete, but can be understood as a further step in elaborating upon these programmes. The intentional idiom of (...)
  8. Developmental Transformations in Attachment in Middle Childhood.Kathryn A. Kerns - 2009 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (1):33-34.
    The target article proposes a model to explain the emergence of sex differences in attachment in middle childhood and their implications for reproductive strategies. While biological factors are prominent in the model, little is said about the social context of middle childhood and its contributions. There is also a need to clarify the fundamental nature of attachment in middle childhood.
  9. Extended Cognition and Fixed Properties: Steps to a Third-Wave Version of Extended Cognition. [REVIEW]Michael David Kirchhoff - 2012 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (2):287-308.
    This paper explores several paths a distinctive third wave of extended cognition might take. In so doing, I address a couple of shortcomings of first- and second-wave extended cognition associated with a tendency to conceive of the properties of internal and external processes as fixed and non-interchangeable. First, in the domain of cognitive transformation, I argue that a problematic tendency of the complementarity model is that it presupposes that socio-cultural resources augment but do not significantly transform the brain’s representational capacities (...)
  10. A Poetics of Psychological Explanation.D. Knight - 1997 - Metaphilosophy 28 (1-2):63-80.
  11. Postmodern Readings of Piaget's Genetic Epistemology.Gary Kose & Gary Fireman - 2000 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 20 (1):52-60.
    This paper examines several contemporary readings of Piaget's texts: M. Chapman's Constructive Evolution provides a wide-ranging exegesis of Piaget's entire body of work; F. Vidal's Piaget before Piaget focuses on Piaget's earliest writings; and H. Beilin's Piaget's New Theory concentrates on Piaget's very last projects. All three contend that in contrast to accepted versions of Piaget's theory, there is a relatively unknown Piaget and a markedly differently way to understand Genetic Epistemology. This brief review attempts to bracket such readings within (...)
  12. Mentalising, Schizotypy, and Schizophrenia.R. Langdon & M. Coltheart - 1999 - Cognition 71 (1):43-71.
  13. Educational Models of Knowledge Prototypes Development.Flavia Santoianni - 2011 - Mind and Society 10 (2):103-129.
    May implicit and explicit collaboration influence text comprehension and spatial recognition interaction? Visuospatial representation implies implicit, visual and spatial processing of actions and concepts at different levels of awareness. Implicit learning is linked to unaware, nonverbal and prototypical processing, especially in the early stages of development when it is prevailing. Spatial processing is studied as knowledge prototypes , conceptual and mind maps . According to the hypothesis that text comprehension and spatial recognition connecting processes may also be implicit, this paper (...)
  14. From Perceptual Categories to Concepts: What Develops?Vladimir M. Sloutsky - 2010 - Cognitive Science 34 (7):1244-1286.
    People are remarkably smart: They use language, possess complex motor skills, make nontrivial inferences, develop and use scientific theories, make laws, and adapt to complex dynamic environments. Much of this knowledge requires concepts and this study focuses on how people acquire concepts. It is argued that conceptual development progresses from simple perceptual grouping to highly abstract scientific concepts. This proposal of conceptual development has four parts. First, it is argued that categories in the world have different structure. Second, there might (...)
  15. Le strutture del mondo del senso commune.Barry Smith - 1992 - Iride 9:22-44.
    The paper seeks to show how the world of everyday human cognition might be treated as an object of ontological investigation in its own right. The paper is influenced by work on affordances and prototypicality of psychologists such as Gibson and Rosch, by work on cognitive universals of the anthropologist Robin Horton, and by work of Patrick Hayes and others on ‘naive’ or ‘qualitative physics’. It defends a thesis to the effect that there is, at the heart of common sense, (...)
  16. Sex Differences in Intrinsic Aptitude for Mathematics and Science? A Critical Review.Elizabeth S. Spelke - 2005 - American Psychologist 60 (9):950-958.
The Nature of Folk Psychology
  1. Folk Psychology and Social Inference: Everyday Solutions to the Problem of Other Minds.Daniel Robert Ames - 1999 - Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
    In the course of everyday life, perceivers make sense of one another with speed and confidence, judging intentions, forming impressions, predicting a person's next move. But what is the nature of such social inferences and how do they unfold? Building on the work of philosophers and developmental psychologists, I argue that, at its core, person perception is bound up with the so-called problem of other minds: the inference of other people's thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires. While this folk psychological approach (...)
  2. Unified Social Cognition.Norman H. Anderson - 2008 - Psychology Press.
    Unified theory of cognition -- Psychological laws -- Foundations of person cognition -- Functional theory of attitudes -- Attitude integration theories -- Comparisons of attitude theories -- Moral algebra -- Group dynamics -- Cognitive theory of judgment-decision -- General theory -- Experimental methods -- Unified science of psychology.
  3. Pluralistic Folk Psychology and Varieties of Self-Knowledge: An Exploration.Kristin Andrews - 2015 - Philosophical Explorations 18 (2):282-296.
    Turning the techniques we use to understand other people onto ourselves can provide an insight into the types of self-knowledge that may be possible for us. Adopting Pluralistic Folk Psychology, according to which we understand others not primarily by thinking about invisible beliefs and desires that cause behavior, but instead by modeling others as people - with rich characters, relationships, past histories, cultural embeddedness, personality traits, and so forth. A preliminary investigation shows that we understand ourselves at least in terms (...)
  4. The Folk Psychological Spiral: Explanation, Regulation, and Language.Kristin Andrews - 2015 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (S1):50-67.
  5. Do Apes Read Minds?: Toward a New Folk Psychology.Kristin Andrews - 2012 - MIT Press.
    Andrews argues for a pluralistic folk psychology that employs different kinds of practices and different kinds of cognitive tools (including personality trait attribution, stereotype activation, inductive reasoning about past behavior, and ...
  6. Telling Stories Without Words.Kristin Andrews - 2009 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (6-8):6-8.
    In this review article of Dan Hutto's bok Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons, I argue that we can take a functional approach to FP that identifies it with the practice of explaining behaviour -- that is, we can understand folk psychology as having the purpose of explaining behaviour and promoting social cohesion by making others’ behaviour comprehensible, without thinking that this ability must be limited to those with linguistic abilities. One reason for thinking that language must (...)
  7. Telling Tales.Kristin Andrews - 2009 - Philosophical Psychology 22 (2):227-235.
    In the twenty-five or so years since Paul Churchland proposed its elimination, defenders of folk psychology have argued for the ubiquity of propositional attitude attribution in human social cognition. If we didn’t understand others in terms of their beliefs and desires, we would see others as ‘‘baffling ciphers’’ and it would be ‘‘the end of the world’’. Because the world continues, and we seem to predict and explain what others do with a remarkable degree of accuracy, the advocates of folk (...)
  8. It's in Your Nature: A Pluralistic Folk Psychology.Kristin Andrews - 2008 - Synthese 165 (1):13 - 29.
    I suggest a pluralistic account of folk psychology according to which not all predictions or explanations rely on the attribution of mental states, and not all intentional actions are explained by mental states. This view of folk psychology is supported by research in developmental and social psychology. It is well known that people use personality traits to predict behavior. I argue that trait attribution is not shorthand for mental state attributions, since traits are not identical to beliefs or desires, and (...)
  9. The Functions of Folk Psychology.Kristin Andrews - manuscript
    The debates about the form of folk psychology and the potential eliminability of folk psychology rest on a particular view about how humans understand other minds. That is, though folk psychology is described as --œour commonsense conception of psychological phenomena--� (Churchland 1981, p. 67), there have been implicit assumptions regarding the nature of that commonsense conception. It has been assumed that folk psychology involves two practices, the prediction and explanation of behavior. And it has been assumed that one cognitive mechanism (...)
  10. How to Learn From Our Mistakes.Kristin Andrews - 2004 - Philosophical Explorations 7 (3):247 – 263.
    A new approach to developing models of folk psychology is suggested, namely that different models exist for different folk psychological practices. This point is made through an example: the explanation and justification of morally heinous actions. Human folk psychology in this area is prone to a specific error of conflating an explanation for behaviour with a justification of it. An analysis of the error leads me to conclude that simulation is used to generate both explanations and justifications of heinous acts. (...)
  11. On Predicting Behavior.Kristin Andrews - manuscript
    I argue that the behavior of other agents is insufficiently described in current debates as a dichotomy between tacit theory (attributing beliefs and desires to predict behavior) and simulation theory (imagining what one would do in similar circumstances in order to predict behavior). I introduce two questions about the foundation and development of our ability both to attribute belief and to simulate it. I then propose that there is one additional method used to predict behavior, namely, an inductive strategy.
  12. Predicting Mind: Belief Attribution in Philosophy and Psychology.Kristin Alexandra Andrews - 2000 - Dissertation, University of Minnesota
    There are two problems with many philosophical theories of the mind and language: they almost always focus exclusively on normal adult humans, excluding others such as children, people with autism, and animals, and they are often developed without regard to the relevant scientific research. In my dissertation, I explain why this is a problem. First, I argue that we should accept the existence of animal minds, and that we should use the methods of experimental psychology and cognitive ethology in order (...)
  13. Anthropomorphism, Anthropectomy, and the Null Hypothesis.Kristin Andrews & Brian Huss - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (5):711-729.
    We examine the claim that the methodology of psychology leads to a bias in animal cognition research against attributing “anthropomorphic” properties to animals . This charge is examined in light of a debate on the role of folk psychology between primatologists who emphasize similarities between humans and other apes, and those who emphasize differences. We argue that while in practice there is sometimes bias, either in the formulation of the null hypothesis or in the preference of Type-II errors over Type-I (...)
  14. The Folk Psychology of Consciousness.Adam Arico, Brian Fiala, Robert F. Goldberg & Shaun Nichols - 2011 - Mind and Language 26 (3):327-352.
    This paper proposes the ‘AGENCY model’ of conscious state attribution, according to which an entity's displaying certain relatively simple features (e.g. eyes, distinctive motions, interactive behavior) automatically triggers a disposition to attribute conscious states to that entity. To test the model's predictions, participants completed a speeded object/attribution task, in which they responded positively or negatively to attributions of mental properties (including conscious and non-conscious states) to different sorts of entities (insects, plants, artifacts, etc.). As predicted, participants responded positively to conscious (...)
  15. Toward Formalizing Common-Sense Psychology: An Analysis of the False-Belief Task.Konstantine Arkoudas & Selmer Bringsjord - 2008 - In Tu-Bao Ho & Zhi-Hua Zhou (eds.), Pricai 2008: Trends in Artificial Intelligence. Springer. pp. 17--29.
  16. Mental Concepts: Casual Analysis.David M. Armstrong - 2004 - In R. L. Gregory (ed.), The Oxford Companion to the Mind. Oxford University Press. pp. 572--574.
  17. Information Processing Constraints on the Acquisition of a Theory of Mind.Mariangela Artuso - 1998
  18. Psychology’s Territories: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives From Different Disciplines.Mitchell G. Ash & Thomas Sturm (eds.) - 2007 - Erlbaum.
    This is an interdisciplinary collection of new essays by philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists and historians on the question: What has determined and what should determine the territory or the boundaries of the discipline named "psychology"? Both the contents - in terms of concepts - and the methods - in terms of instruments - are analyzed. Among the contributors are Mitchell Ash, Paul Baltes, Jochen Brandtstädter, Gerd Gigerenzer, Michael Heidelberger, Gerhard Roth, and Thomas Sturm.
  19. False-Belief Understanding and Social Competence.Janet Wilde Astington - 2003 - In B. Repacholi & V. Slaughter (eds.), Individual Differences in Theory of Mind: Implications for Typical and Atypical Development. Hove, E. Sussex: Psychology Press.
  20. Dispositional Beliefs and Dispositions to Believe.Robert Audi - 1994 - Noûs 28 (4):419-34.
  21. The Explanation of Human Action in Common Sense and Contemporary Psychology.Robert Nemir Audi - 1967 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
  22. A Unified Account of General Learning Mechanisms and Theory‐of‐Mind Development.Theodore Bach - 2014 - Mind and Language 29 (3):351-381.
    Modularity theorists have challenged that there are, or could be, general learning mechanisms that explain theory-of-mind development. In response, supporters of the ‘scientific theory-theory’ account of theory-of-mind development have appealed to children's use of auxiliary hypotheses and probabilistic causal modeling. This article argues that these general learning mechanisms are not sufficient to meet the modularist's challenge. The article then explores an alternative domain-general learning mechanism by proposing that children grasp the concept belief through the progressive alignment of relational structure that (...)
  23. Structure-Mapping: Directions From Simulation to Theory.Theodore Bach - 2011 - Philosophical Psychology 24 (1):23-51.
    The theory of mind debate has reached a “hybrid consensus” concerning the status of theory-theory and simulation-theory. Extant hybrid models either specify co-dependency and implementation relations, or distribute mentalizing tasks according to folk-psychological categories. By relying on a non-developmental framework these models fail to capture the central connection between simulation and theory. I propose a “dynamic” hybrid that is informed by recent work on the nature of similarity cognition. I claim that Gentner’s model of structure-mapping allows us to understand simulation (...)
  24. Rethinking Commonsense Psychology: A Critique of Folk Psychology, Theory of Mind and Simulation - by Matthew Ratcliffe.James Baillie - 2008 - Philosophical Books 49 (2):172-175.
  25. Rethinking Commonsense Psychology: A Critique of Folk Psychology, Theory of Mind and Simulation ‐ by Matthew Ratcliffe.James Baillie - 2008 - Philosophical Books 49 (2):172-175.
  26. Folk Psychology.Lynne Rudder Baker - 1999 - In Rob Wilson & Frank Keil (eds.), MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. MIT Press.
    In recent years, folk psychology has become a topic of debate not just among philosophers, but among development psychologists and primatologists as well.
  27. What is This Thing Called 'Commonsense Psychology'?Lynne Rudder Baker - 1999 - Philosophical Explorations 2 (1):3-19.
    What is this thing called ‘Commonsense Psychology’? The first matter to settle is what the issue is here. By ‘commonsense psychology,’ I mean primarily the systems of describing, explaining and predicting human thought and action in terms of beliefs, desires, hopes, fears, expectations, intentions and other so-called propositional attitudes. Although commonsense psychology encompasses more than propositional attitudes--e.g., emotions, traits and abilities are also within its purview--belief-desire reasoning forms the core of commonsense psychology. Commonsense psychology is what we use to explain (...)
  28. On the Attribution of Mental States.Juraj Banovsky - 2013 - Filozofia 68 (6):530-538.
  29. Computer Modeling and the Fate of Folk Psychology.John A. Barker - 2002 - Metaphilosophy 33 (1-2):30-48.
  30. Folk Psychology as Mental Simulation.Luca Barlassina & Robert M. Gordon - 2017 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Mindreading (or folk psychology, Theory of Mind, mentalizing) is the capacity to represent and reason about others’ mental states. The Simulation Theory (ST) is one of the main approaches to mindreading. ST draws on the common-sense idea that we represent and reason about others’ mental states by putting ourselves in their shoes. More precisely, we typically arrive at representing others’ mental states by simulating their mental states in our own mind. This entry offers a detailed analysis of ST, considers theoretical (...)
  31. Simulative Reasoning, Common-Sense Psychology and Artificial Intelligence.John A. Barnden - 1995 - In Martin Davies & Tony Stone (eds.), Mental Simulation: Evaluations and Applications. Blackwell. pp. 247--273.
  32. Without a Theory of Mind One Cannot Participate in a Conversation.Simon Baron-Cohen - 1988 - Cognition 29 (1):83-84.
  33. Marking the Perception–Cognition Boundary: The Criterion of Stimulus-Dependence.Jacob Beck - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (2):319-334.
    Philosophy, scientific psychology, and common sense all distinguish perception from cognition. While there is little agreement about how the perception–cognition boundary ought to be drawn, one prominent idea is that perceptual states are dependent on a stimulus, or stimulus-dependent, in a way that cognitive states are not. This paper seeks to develop this idea in a way that can accommodate two apparent counterexamples: hallucinations, which are prima facie perceptual yet stimulus-independent; and demonstrative thoughts, which are prima facie cognitive yet stimulus-dependent. (...)
  34. Folk-Psychological Explanations.Jonathan Bennett - 1991 - In John D. Greenwood (ed.), The Future of Folk Psychology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 176.
1 — 50 / 1422