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Theory of Mind

Theory of Mind (ToM) is the ability to ascribe mental states to other persons and use this information to explain and predict the actions of those other persons. Mental states include concepts such as beliefs, desires, perspectives, knowledge, and intentions. Possessing ToM allows one to attribute thoughts, desires, and intentions to others, to predict or explain their actions, and to posit their intentions. Empathy is a related concept, which refers to the recognition and understanding of the states of mind of others, including their beliefs, desires, and particularly emotions. This is often characterized as the ability to “put oneself in another’s shoes.”

ToM is a theory, as one cannot directly observe or confirm the activities of the mind. Thus, this theory involves the presumption that others ...

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