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Theory of Mind

When trying to predict and explain people’s behaviors, we often attend to their minds—that is, we make sense of others’ actions by considering their desires (e.g., What does she want?), intentions (e.g., Did she mean to do it?), beliefs (e.g., She knows what happened), thoughts (e.g., She thinks this will work), and emotions (e.g., She feels happy). Over the past 30 years, developmental scientists have established a large body of research on age-related changes and individual differences in children’s theory of mind— a term commonly used to refer to reasoning about the internal mental states and emotions of self and others. This entry gives an overview of theory of mind research, including consideration of the biological bases and sources of individual differences in typical and ...

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