“Theory of mind” and the importance of the ability to understand

“Theory of mind” and the importance of the ability to understand 3

Theory of Mind is an important social cognitive skill, related to the ability to reason and evaluate mental states – including emotions, desires, beliefs and knowledge

Origin of theory of mind

According to psychologists, our beliefs about what is going on in other people’s heads are only abstract.

Why is theory of mind important?

The emergence of Theory of Mind plays a very important role in the development process.

Theory of mind allows us all to infer the intentions of others, as well as make predictions about what is going on in their minds, including their joys, fears, beliefs, hopes… Interactions

The Development of Theory of Mind

The strongest development of Theory of Mind mainly occurs between the ages of 3 and 5. Some researchers also suggest that gender and number of siblings in the family may influence the appearance of this skill.

Theory of mind develops as children interact more socially.

The development of Theory of Mind tends to improve gradually over time.

“Theory of mind” and the importance of the ability to understand

Stages of theory of mind

A study shows that children often progress through 5 levels of Theory of Mind, including the ability to think and reason about the following issues:

One person’s desires are often different from another.

People can have different beliefs about the same event or situation.

People may not understand or know that something is true.

People can hold false beliefs about the world.

People can possess hidden emotions, and can act in a completely different way from the way they feel.

Psychologists have also found that Theory of Mind can be unstable.

How do psychologists test theory of mind?

So how exactly do psychologists measure how we perceive our own thoughts and the thoughts of others?

The goal of the task: to ask a child to reason about what someone did or what they were thinking, when their beliefs about the actual situation conflict with what they know.

“Theory of mind” and the importance of the ability to understand

We can clearly understand the mechanism of this mission through the “Sally – Anne Test”.

The children will pass the test if they say that Sally definitely looked in the basket.

Some diseases are related to theory of mind

Weakness in Theory of Mind can give rise to a variety of serious complications.


Researcher Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues suggest that Theory of Mind problems are one of the defining features of autism.

They found that while about 80% of children with neurological conditions or Down syndrome could correctly answer mental questions, only about 20% of children diagnosed with autism


In a survey of more than 1,500 participants, significant impairment of Theory of Mind appeared in people with schizophrenia.

“Theory of mind” and the importance of the ability to understand

In summary, Theory of Mind plays an extremely important role in the comprehensive development of an individual’s communication skills.

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