Theory of Mind and Language Development

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  • Theory of mind refers to the human tendency to predict and explain other people's behavior in terms of internal mental states. For instance, if you witness a young lady opening a paper bag, looking in, and then closing it up abruptly and throwing it in a trash bin, you immediately understand that she does not like the bag's contents, she does not want the contents, and she thinks the contents are worthless. All of these interpretations, based on her behavior, are inferences about invisible, internal states within her mind. Between the ages of 3 and 6 years, typically developing children begin to engage in this sort of reasoning; they can describe what she feels, wants, and thinks, and they can make further inferences about what ...

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