On the Long Road to Mentalism in Children's Spontaneous False-Belief Understanding: Are We There Yet?

We review recent anticipatory looking and violation-of-expectancy studies suggesting that infants and young preschoolers have spontaneous (implicit) understanding of mind despite their known problems until later in life on elicited (explicit) tests of false-belief reasoning. Straightforwardly differentiating spontaneous and elicited expressions of complex mental state understanding in relation to an implicit-explicit knowledge framework may be challenging; early action predictions may be based on behavior rules that are complementary to the mentalistic attributions under consideration. We discuss that the way forward for diagnosing early mentalism is to analyze whether young candidate mind-readers’ visual orienting cohere across different belief-formation by belief-use combinations. Adopting this formal cognitive analysis, we conclude that whilst some studies come tantalizingly close to sign-posting mentalism in infants and young children’s spontaneous responses, the bulk of evidence for early mentalism grades into behaviorism
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DOI 10.1007/s13164-011-0067-y
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References found in this work BETA
False-Belief Understanding in Infants.Renée Baillargeon, Rose M. Scott & Zijing He - 2010 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14 (3):110-118.

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How Theory of Mind and Executive Function Co-Develop.Stephanie E. Miller & Stuart Marcovitch - 2012 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (4):597-625.

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