Theory of Mind refers to the understanding that one has thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires and that these mental states in others often differ from oneself. Theory of mind has been studied extensively in children and nonhuman animals. However, study with nonhuman species can prove difficult as many tests of theory of mind are human-specific. Children generally begin to develop early stages of theory of mind during their late preschool years. Many tasks have been designed to test for theory of mind in children, the most well known being the “Sally-Anne Task” or the “false-belief task”. The task involves testing whether children will correctly guess where someone else may search for a toy when it was hidden within view of the other but then moved within view of the child and not the other. Deficits in theory of mind development are often seen in children with autism who struggle with social cues and understanding of others’ intentions.

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Slaughter, V. (2015). Theory of mind in infants and young children: A review. Australian Psychologist, 50(3), 169-172.

Baron-Cohen, S. (2001). Theory of mind and autism: A review. International review of research in mental retardation, 23(23), 169-184.

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