Integrating Conflicting Perspectives


Abstract
"Theory of mind� describes the ability to impute mental states, such as beliefs, desires and intentions, to oneself and to other people. Usually we want to know why people did what they did and we wonder what they are going to do next. That is, everyday we try to predict and explain human behaviour. In order to do this we refer to a person"s beliefs, desires, emotions, intentions etc. Behaviour is the product of belief and desire: People do things because they desire something and believe some act will achieve it. For adults it is clear that our assumptions about reality do not necessarily match the real world; but we know, regardless of whether our beliefs are true or not, our beliefs direct our actions. In contrast, it is not until the age of 4 years that children understand that one can be mistaken about the world and that actions can be based on this false belief.
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