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Flashcards in Theory of mind Deck (74):

How did Miller (2006) define 'theory of mind'?

Understanding of mental states (beliefs, desires, knowledge) that lets us explain & predict other people's behaviour


What is theory of mind an important component of?

ToM is an important component of empathising


As well as ToM, what is the other component of empathising?

The other component is having appropriate affective reactions to other people's mental states


There is evidence that ToM is not unique to humans. Which study found such evidence?

Premack & Woodruff (1978) - an adult female chimp was shown a video of a human actor struggling with various problems
- the problems were simple OR complex
- with each video, the chimp was shown photos, one of which represented the solution to the problem, & the chimp had to choose the correct solution


What did Premack & Woodruff (1978) find when they studied their female chimp?

The chimp consistently chose the correct photo → she recognised the video as representing a problem, understood the actor’s purpose & chose alternatives that were compatible with that purpose → she possessed one aspect of theory of mind (empathising)


Which area/s of the brain did Gallagher & Frith (2003) claim that ToM may involve?

- mPFC
- posterior superior temporal sulcus


Which area/s of the brain did Saxe & Powell (2006) claim that ToM may involve?

- right TPJ


What component of ToM develops at 9 months-old?

Develop action understanding


What component of ToM develops at 9-14 months-old?

Protodeclarative pointing


What component of ToM develops at 12 months-old?

- become sensitive to where someone is looking
- understand the significance of the eyes


What component of ToM develops at 14 months-old?

Become keen to establish joint attention


What component of ToM develops at 18 months-old?

Show concern at the distress of others


What is 'false belief'?

- understanding that others may have representations of the world that are false/different from our own

- understanding that others act on the basis of their beliefs rather than reality


Which false belief tasks have researchers used to assess children's ToM abilities?

- Maxi & the chocolate task
- Sally-Ann task
- Smarties task


What is the Maxi & the chocolate task?

1. Maxi puts chocolate into a green box & goes out to play
2. Mum moves the chocolate into a blue box
3. Maxi comes back & wants chocolate


What questions will the children be asked in the Maxi & the chocolate task?

ToM question:
"Where will Maxi look?"

Memory control question:
"Where is the chocolate now?"
"Where was the chocolate before?"


What results have researchers found for the Maxi & the chocolate task?

Wimmer & Perner (1983):
- 50% of 4-5 y/o said ‘green’ (just by chance)
- 92% of 5-6 y/o said ‘green’
- both age groups got the control questions correct, so researchers concluded that false beliefs representation may develop between 4-6 y/o


What is the Sally-Ann task?

1. The child is shown 2 dolls, each with their own boxes & a marble hidden inside Sally’s box
2. Sally leaves the room
3. Anne removes the marble from Sally’s box & puts it into her own box
4. Sally returns


What ToM question will the children be asked in the Sally-Ann task?

"Which box will Sally look in?


How do children with & without ToM abilities respond in the Sally-Ann task?

A child with ToM will realise that Sally doesn’t know that Anne has moved the marble & will look in her own box

A child without ToM will suggest that Sally looks for the marble in Anne’s box


What results have researchers found for the Sally-Ann task?

Baron-Cohen, Leslie & Frith (1985) - typically-developed 4-5 y/o pass the Sally-Ann task


Why might it be too difficult for 1-2 y/o to pass the Sally-Ann task?

1-2 y/o lack sufficient attentional & linguistic resources


Do people with ASD pass the Sally-Ann task?

No - most children with ASD don't pass the Sally-Ann task


In the Sally-Ann task, some researchers found that no 3-4 y/o pointed to the correct box, but 57% 4-6 y/o did & 86% 6-9 y/o did.

Who found this?

Wimmer & Perner (1993)


What is good about the Smarties task that does not apply to the Maxi task/Sally-Ann task?

The Smarties task overcomes issues of story comprehension (Perner et al., 1987)


What is the Smarties task?

1. The child is shown a Smarties tube & asked what is inside – they say “sweets”
2. The experimenter removes the lid to show that it contains a crayon


What questions will the children be asked in the Smarties task?

ToM question:
"If your friend comes in now, what will they think is inside?"

Memory control question:
"What did you think was inside before I took the lid off?"


At what age do children pass the Smarties task?

Perner et al. (1987) - children pass this task when they are 4-5 y/o


What are some criticisms of false belief tasks?

X might be too easy
X don't require full ToM


What study supports the criticism that false belief tasks don't actually require full ToM?

Baron-Cohen (1989) found that pps with ASD (who have a ToM deficit) can sometimes pass false belief tasks


What type of ToM tasks can solve some of the problems of false belief tasks?

Second-/higher-order ToM tasks
- involve 'beliefs about beliefs'


Bloom & German (2000) proposed a number of reasons why we should abandon false belief tasks as a test of ToM. What are these reasons?

X passing false belief tasks requires abilities other than ToM
X there is more to ToM than passing false belief tasks


Expand on the idea that passing false belief tasks might require abilities other than ToM.

- even if a child understands that beliefs can be false, they may still find the Sally-Ann task difficult

- to succeed at false belief tasks, they must be able to override simple and useful heuristics


What research supports the idea that there is more to ToM than passing false belief tasks?

O’Neill (1996) – 2 y/o can modify their behaviour according to the knowledge states of others (whether or not their parent has a given belief)
- 2 y/o have a tacit appreciation of the circumstances under which beliefs are formed
- before age 2, they show signs that they appreciate the workings of other people's minds


What researcher supports the idea that children younger than 2 y/o show signs of appreciating the workings of others minds?

Leslie (1994) – they can initiate pretend play and understand the pretence of others

Csibra et al. (1999) – they can attribute goals to other agents

Carpenter, Akhtar & Tomasello (1998) – they can imitate others’ intended & completed actions


What do second-order ToM tasks measure?

Second-order tests measure a person's inferences about a belief


A child's performance on second-order ToM tasks is still linked to....

...their language & story comprehension abilities


Which researcher did the John & Mary ice cream van task?

Perner & Wimmer (1985)


What is the ice cream van task?

'John & Mary see an ice cream van at the park. Later, each is independently told that the van has moved from the park to the church but neither child knows that the other actor has been told’


What did Perner & Wimmer (1985) do in their ice cream van task?

They asked 5-10 y/o where John thinks Mary would go to buy an ice cream
To respond correctly, the children must take into account John’s ignorance of Mary’s knowledge of the true whereabouts of the van

--> children don’t respond correctly until they are 6-7 y/o


What do the results from Perner & Wimmer's (1985) ice cream van study suggest?

Their results suggests a delay in the development of first-order ToM understanding into second-order ToM understanding


Who found that 90%+ 4-5 y/o succeeded at second-order ToM tasks if the stories were simplified?

Sullivan et al. (1994)


Some researchers claim that understanding of false belief develops earlier than 4 y/o but traditional false belief tasks are too hard for younger children to pass. What are the issues with false belief tasks that younger children encounter?

- issues of language comprehension & expression
- children can’t pass them unless they understand the question
- requires complex responses from the child
- requires the child to remember details of the story


Which non-verbal measure can we use to measure ToM?

Onishi & Baillargeon (2005):
1. An actor plays with a toy then puts it in a yellow box
2. The infant (not the actor) sees the toy being moved from the yellow to a green box
3. The actor reaches into a box


What did Onishi & Baillargeon (2005) find 15 month-olds did when the actor put their hand into the green box?

When the actor put their hand into the green box to get the toy, 15 month-olds looked longer
--> this indicates that they were surprised


Who found that infants with better gaze-following skills at 10-11 months-old had higher language scores at 18 months-old?

Brooks & Meltzoff (2005)


Baldwin (1996) found that by 18 months-old, infants can use a listeners direction of gaze (LDG).
What did his study investigate?

Baldwin (1996) investigated which age children learnt labels using follow-in labelling and discrepant labelling


What is follow-in labelling?

The experimenter looks at & labels a toy that the infant is attending to


What is discrepant labelling?

The experimenter looks at & labels a different toy to the one that the infant is attending to


What did Baldwin (1996) find?

Infants learnt labels during follow-in labelling after 16 months-old
- they understood that the speaker’s non-verbal cues were relevant to their reference of object labels → this contributes to the social coordination involved in achieving joint reference)

Infants learnt labels during discrepant labelling after 18 months

- infants responses to subsequent comprehension questions showed that they had successfully learnt labels introduced during follow-in labelling & made no mapping errors after discrepant labelling


What is ASD, in relation to ToM?

ASD is a deficit in ToM


Which are Baron-Cohen's 2 theories of ASD?

- Baron-Cohen's ToM model
- Empathising/Systemising Theory of ToM


According to Baron-Cohen, children with ASD...

...often fail false beliefs tasks

- their language impairments are often linked to their ToM deficit


Various measures have been developed to assess ToM. What are they?

Davis (1980) – Interpersonal Reactivity Scale

Lawrence et al. (2004) – Empathy Quotient

Baron-Cohen et al. (2001) – Reading the Mind in the Eyes test


What is Baron-Cohen et al.'s (2001) 'Reading the Mind in the Eyes' test?

- it is a measure of adult mentalising

- it is given to adults with AS/high-functioning autism

--> this test was inversely correlated with the Autism Spectrum Quotient (= a measure of autistic traits in adults with normal intelligence)
--> this test has improved power to detect subtle individual differences in social sensitivity


What is the Interpersonal Reactivity Scale (Davis, 1980)?

- 28 items with a 5-point Likert scale (‘Does not describe me well’ → ‘very well’)
- has 4 sub-scales that are made of 7 items each


What are the 4 sub-scales of the Interpersonal Reactivity Scale (Davis, 1980)?

- perspective taking
- fantasy
- empathic concern
- personal distress


What does perspective taking measure in the Interpersonal Reactivity Scale (Davis, 1980)?

A person's tendency to spontaneously adopt the psychological point of view of others


What does fantasy measure in the Interpersonal Reactivity Scale (Davis, 1980)?

A person's tendency to transpose themselves imaginatively into the feelings & actions of fictional characters


What does empathic concern measure in the Interpersonal Reactivity Scale (Davis, 1980)?

Assesses a person's ‘other-oriented’ feelings of sympathy & concern for others


What does personal distress measure in the Interpersonal Reactivity Scale (Davis, 1980)?

Measures a person's ‘self-oriented’ feelings of personal anxiety & unease in tense interpersonal settings


What is the Empathy Quotient (Lawrence et al., 2004)?

- 60-item questionnaire
- measures empathy in adults


Which researcher/s did a study assessing the reliability & validity of the Empathy Quotient?

Lawrence, Shaw, Baker & Baron-Cohen (2004)


What did Lawrence, Shaw, Baker & Baron-Cohen (2004) do in their study?

Experiment 1:
53 pps completed the Empathy Quotient test, Social Desirability Scale & Reading the Mind in the Eyes task

Experiment 2:
The researchers did principle component analysis on the data from 110 healthy pps & 62 pps that reported depersonalisation

Experiment 3:
1 year later, pps completed the EQ & Interpersonal Reactivity Index


What did Lawrence, Shaw, Baker & Baron-Cohen (2004) find in their study?

There was an association between the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task & the Empathy Quotient

PCA revealed 3 factors - cognitive empathy, emotional reactivity & social skills


What did Lawrence, Shaw, Baker & Baron-Cohen (2004) conclude from their results?

They concluded that the Empathy Quotient test is a valid & reliable source


Attributing mental states to ____________ reflects higher-order ToM abilities.

Attributing mental states to the 'interaction' of inanimate shapes reflects higher-order ToM abilities
- we are making sense of & explaining their behaviour


What types of tasks to researchers use to examine ToM abilities in people with AS & autism?

Social attribution tasks (SATs)


Who found that 8 y/o with high-functioning autism used terms that attributed animacy to shapes less often & used more incorrect terms/emotions than typically-developed children?

Abell, Happe & Frith (2000)


Kiln & Jones (2006) did a similar study to Abell, Happe & Frith (2000). What did they find?

Those with high-functioning autism were impaired on an SAT but not on a task that only involved physical attributions (PAT)

This confirmed that their deficit is domain-specific (it isn't a general deficit in reasoning/attribution but is specific to social stimuli)


Castelli et al. (2002) compared pps brain activity when they watched shapes move in a ‘social’ way (SAT) OR shapes that moved randomly. What did they find?

- there was more activation in the superior temporal sulcus, TPJ & mPFC when pps watched social stimuli

- typically-developed pps showed more activation in these areas than people with ASD


Which researcher found that SATs activated the fusiform face area?

Schultz et al. (2003)

Activation of the FFA to tasks without faces challenges the view that the FFA is restricted to the perception of faces


What other brain areas did SATs activate in Schultz et al.'s (2003) study?

- amygdala
- temporal pole
- mPFC
- inferolateral frontal cortex


In autism, is the fusiform face area hyperactive OR hypoactive?

In autism, the FFA is hypoactive (inhibited) to faces