Theory of mind denotes the conceptual system that underlies the ability to understand, predict and interpret the thoughts, feelings and behavior of self and others by reference to specific mental states (states of mind) . Originally introduced by primatologists, the term “Theory of mind” (ToM) is used to refer to (1) the ability to impute mental states, i.e. to mentalizing or mind-reading ( Mentalizing, mind-reading ), (2) the study of children’s understanding of mind in developmental and cognitive psychology, and (3) the “Theory Theory” account of mental state attribution.
Theory of mind; Folk psychology
Part of the Darwin exhibition.
But for scientists, a theory has nearly the opposite meaning. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can incorporate laws, hypotheses and facts. The theory of gravitation, for instance, explains why apples fall from trees and astronauts float in space. Similarly, the theory of evolution explains why so many plants and animals–some very similar and some very different–exist on Earth now and in the past, as revealed by the fossil record.
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In: Mind and Language , Vol. 13, No. 3, 09.1998, p. 421-449.
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