Pretending and believing: issues in the theory of ToMM

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Commonsense notions of psychological causality emerge early and spontaneously in the child. What implications does this have for our understanding of the mind/brain and its development? In the light of available evidence, the child's "theory of mind" is plausibly the result of the growth and functioning of a specialized mechanism (ToMM) that produces domain-specific learning. The failure of early spontaneous development of "theory of mind" in childhood autism can be understood in terms of an impairment in the growth and functioning of this mechanism. ToMM constructs agent-centered descriptions of situations or "metarepresentations". Agent-centered descriptions place agents in relation to information. By relating behavior to the attitudes agents take to the truth of propositions, ToMM makes possible a commonsense causal interpretation of agents' behavior as the result of circumstances that are imaginary rather than physical. Two early attitude concepts, pretends and believes, are discussed in the light of some current findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-238
Number of pages28
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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