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Using theory of mind

Liszkowski, U. (2013). Using theory of mind. Child Development Perspectives, 7, 104-109. doi:10.1111/cdep.12025.
The ability to flexibly predict others' behaviors has been ascribed to a theory of mind (ToM) system. Most research has focused on formal conceptual definitions of such a system, and the question of whom to credit with a ToM. In this article, I suggest shifting perspective from formal definitions to a usage-based approach. This approach views action within human interaction as central to the emergence and continuous development of the ability to flexibly predict others' behaviors. Addressing the current debate about whether infants have a ToM, I illustrate how infants use flexible action expectations to interact with others appropriately. I also discuss the continuous development of ToM and its natural structure from a usage-based perspective.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


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