What is Mindreading?

WIREs Cognitive Science (forthcoming)

Authors
Shannon Spaulding
Oklahoma State University
Abstract
Theory of mind, also known as mindreading, refers to our ability to attribute mental states to agents in order to make sense of and interact with other agents. Recently, theorists in this literature have advanced a broad conception of mindreading. In particular, psychologists and philosophers have examined how we attribute knowledge, intention, mentalistically-loaded stereotypes, and personality traits to others. Moreover, the diversity of our goals in a social interaction – precision, efficiency, self/in-group protection – generates diversity in the mindreading processes we employ. Finally, the products of mindreading are varied, as well. We produce different sorts of mindreading explanations depending on our epistemic goals and the situational context. In this article, I piece together these different strands of research to present a broad conception of mindreading that is complex, messy, and interesting.
Keywords theory of mind  stereotypes  explanations  personality traits  mindreading
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