PSYCH211 Lecture Notes - Folk Psychology, Great Dane

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16 Oct 2011
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Chapter 7 Conceptual Development
“Concept”
Many different ideas about what a “concept” is
Thoughts are composed of concepts
Cartoons to be able to get the joke, you have to be able to understand what other people are thinking, or how
they view the world
We have an ability to consider how others see the world, using this ability makes the cartoons funny (ex. what
the characters know, think, believe, and want)
In order to understand how people act (behaviour), you must think about their beliefs and wants
Mental state concepts: know, think, believe, want (ex. your belief is a mental state, someone else thinking about
your belief is using their concept of your mental state
Animals cannot think about beliefs, but they can have them
There is a distinction between having mental states and reasoning about them
Reasoning about these mental states are called: naive psychology (folk psychology), theory of mind, mental
state reasoning
Main points:
1. Generally, understanding and predicting human actions requires the ability to think about beliefs and desires
2. These mental states are invisible
3. Mental states are abstract (difficult to define)
4. Understanding mental states starts relatively early
5. Some mental states (especially beliefs) are representational of the world
How do we investigate children’s reasoning about beliefs?
Tell children a story: Sally puts her ball in the basket, then leaves, Anne moves the ball to the box, Sally
comes back, where will she look for the ball?
To pass the test children cannot just think about where the ball actually is, children have to
understand where Sally thinks (believes) the ball is
Lots of debates about the results
Basic finding is that 3 year olds typically fail, 4 year olds will typically pass
This is a false belief task (Sally had the false belief)...why not use a true belief task?
o True belief task Anne would move the ball while Sally is watching
o Doesn’t test her understanding of her beliefs – it is possible for children to pass the task without
having the understanding of beliefs (just reality is needed)
o Doesn’t test the thing that it’s supposed to test
Different kind of false belief task
o Cheerios box, think that Cheerios are in the box, experimenter shows that Gumbi is in the box,
he ate all the Cheerios, put Gumbi back in the box, what will Mike say is in the box? ...Cheerios
(false belief “deceptive container”)
o When I first showed you this box, before we opened it, what did you think was inside?” 5-year
old will say “Cheerios,” 3-year old will say “Gumbi” (3 year olds can’t apply a false belief to
others, or to themselves)
o “self question” sometimes called “representational change” question
o Ways to get 3 year olds to pass:
1. Highlighting deception
Highlight trickery/deceptive intent
Ex. say the word “trick” a lot, children will be more likely to pass
2. No-see version
Two boxes (red and blue), puppet frog tells the child that the object is under the red
box, frog tells rabbit that the carrot is under the blue box 3 year olds will now
pass the task
Task gets harder again if the child gets to see the object and where it really is
Possible that when child sees the object, it gets “burned” into their brain, and is
harder to not remember it
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