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Theory of Mind

Theory of mind (ToM) is the understanding that humans are thinking beings who have mental states that cannot always be directly observed. These states may include thought, understanding, belief, emotion, and desire. This entry describes the roots of ToM research and the development of ToM in typically developing children and in individuals with special developmental needs, including those on the autism spectrum. This entry also touches on neurological and other influences on ToM development.

History of ToM

Contemporary discussions of ToM have roots in philosophical debates about the science of the mind that have continued into recent centuries. Operant conditioning is a theory of learning that suggests behavior is controlled by its antecedents and consequences. Although B. F. Skinner, the father of operant conditioning, felt that it ...

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