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Theory of Mind - Social Attention

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PSYC 213
Jelena Ristic

Theory of Mind (ToM) → understanding mental states of others • social cognition investigates how we represent mental states of others • what is our ability to attribute beliefs to others? Attribute false beliefs to others? the “false belief” test (ToM): 3 year olds think everyone sees the world the same, 4 year olds know what others will think the world is different, by 5 years old children know that the world is deceptive ToMM (Theory of Mind Mechanism): • fractioned into modular components • each coming online at different times in development EDD (Eye Direction Detector) → mechanism the detects eye threshold • present at birth (in humans and baby monkeys) • detects presence of eyes and computes eye direction • human eyes have lots of white (vs. iris) → high degree of contrast → more interesting ID (Intentionality Detector) → computes intentions of others based on dyadic relationships • relationships between a person and an object (ex: ‘Jane wants a toy’) SAM (Shared Attention Mechanism) → computes triadic relationships by shifting attention to where others are looking • ex: ‘Jane and John play with the same toy’ • links EDD and ID and feeds into ToMM * understanding the mental states of others critically rests on our ability to detect and interpret eye direction. Q. what happens when this ability is broken? • patients with bilateral amygdala damage → problems with ToM tasks • individuals with autism → delayed ToM development picture examples (dad showing son how to tie and tie) Q. how do we interpret what these people are doing just by looking at images? • research on our ability to quickly figure out what people are doing by looking at images - focus on posture, hand signals, position of head, eye direction (most subtle, but it’s the key) we can discern where people are looking with great accuracy Q. do social cues influence where our attention is allocated? cuing task - boxes tell us nothing about where the cuing will take place - completely reflexive modified cuing task - modified by a face, and it shows where the face is looking Q. is it developed through experience? • Hood (1998): researched 10-28 week old infants (usually only children 18months and older were tested) • results show that face-following happens earlier than 18 months of age (detection of eye dire
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