Essay Example on The term theory of mind is inhabited by mental States








The term theory of mind is inhabited by mental states involving beliefs desires thoughts emotions perceptions intentions and others Flavell 2004 It investigates the development of the framework where it is an essential part of understanding that other people have their own mental states too Astington Gopnik 1991 Perner 1991 Taylor 1996 One remarkable discovery of research on young children is that they are developing their own intuitive map of mental processes like these from very early in life Baillargeon et al 2010 Saxe 2013 Wellman and Woolley 1990 Theorists suggests that Theory of Mind develops with the skills that children acquire between the ages of four and five However many researchers believe that infants tend to start displaying skills required for development of Theory of Mind from the ages of 13 24 months Onishi and Baillargeon 2005 Perner Ruffman 2005 Baillargeon et al 2010 Song et al 2008 Surian et al 2007 Robinson Westby 2014 de Villiers de Villiers 2014 The concept of Theory of Mind is a debatable topic among the researchers till date There are certain precursors to the development of Theory of Mind

The following paragraphs describes few precursors to development of theory of mind observed in a 4 month old infant named Kyle These precursors were observed in a natural setting displayed by Kyle Infants communicate through different ways and patterns such as non verbal cues like cooing gurgles crying facial expressions body movements and many others The construct presented here is one of the earlier stages of communication babbling Babbling is a stage in which babies speak non recognizable words mostly from their own language in response to the sounds made by other people Gerken Zamuner 2004 It is the second stage in an infant s patterns of communication right after crying in newborns Infants between the ages of 3 6 months begin their phase of babbling It is the result of responding to the sounds made by other people The extract Kyle smiled and was responding with non verbal cues and then finally let out a small ah to indicate he was enjoying the game but didn't laugh out loud observation 2 lines 72 74 And extract he was also grizzling the whole time with aahh and ehh syllables observation 1 line 44 shows Kyle was responding to the communications and actions made by the mother by using non verbal cues and babbling speech This precursor was chosen on the basis that different patterns of communication in early stages of infancy such as Kyle s babbling of syllables leads to development in language acquisition which aids in the development of theory of mind Research has shown that interest in an infant to respond and interact socially with the parents and other social being minds helps them acquire and learn words and meanings This continuous engagement in communication enriches language development leading to greater understanding of perspectives in conversations 

The evidence that language development is closely intertwined with the development of theory of mind is strong de Villiers 2007 Astington and Jenkins 1999 have also provided research evidence showing language development influences the development of theory of mind Strong associations were found between early language development and later theory of mind performance when a study examined the relation between children's language development at 2 years of age and their theory of mind performance at 4 years of age Farrar Maag 2002 JOINT ATTENTION IN INFANTS Infants begin to coordinate attention between caregivers and objects in a meaningful way by looking for example back and forth between the caregiver and the object This kind of shared focus between a child a caregiver and an object or event is known as joint attention Gaze following is typically a good example of joint attention behavior Leavens Racine 2009 Joint attention defined by Morales et al 2000 as the capacity of an infant to coordinate her attention with a social partner vis a vis an object or event It is considered to be an early developing component of theory of mind Tomasello 1995

By 9 months infants begin to share with another person the experience of attending to something Carpenter Nagell Tomasello 1998 and according to Tomasello 1995 come to understand that others intend for the infant to pay attention to a specific aspect of an object or event Around this age infants are also seen to follow the attention of adults by alternating their own gaze between adults and events or objects in the environment Moore Corkum 1998 Carpenter et al 1998 Under very simplified conditions infants as young as three months have also been shown to follow gaze Hood et al 1998 D Entremont et al 1997 Charman et al found that a measure of joint attention shifting gaze between an adult and an interesting toy at 20 months was positively correlated with theory of mind performance at 44 months Charman et al 2000 noted that there were substantial research showing connection between joint attention and theory of mind via language development However reported that direct relationship between joint attention and the development of theory of mind was needed to be further investigated

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