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Lecture 7

EDHD 411 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Gopnik, Other Minds

Education, Human Development
Course Code
EDHD 411
Lucas Butler

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Monday, April 3, 2017
Understanding Other Minds
-A guy jumps in the swimming pool with all of his clothes on. Why?
-“Theory of Mind”
Having a “theory of mind” (ToM) allows you to reason about the guys’ behavior when he
jumped in the swimming pool
-Someone drowning?
-Saw a $20 bill at the bottom?
-Drunk and thought it would be fun?
Regardless: He had something in his head (a belief) that caused him to do what he did
-The Origins of “Theory of Mind”
In assuming that other individuals want, think, believe, and the like, one infers states that
are not directly observable and one uses these states to predict the behavior of others as well
as their own
These inferences, which amount to a theory of mind, are, to our knowledge, universal in
human adults
Although it is reasonable to assume that their occurrence depends on some form of
experience, that form is not immediately apparent
-Evidently it is not that of an explicit pedagogy
Inferences about another individual are not taught they are more reminiscent of walking
or speech
Premack & Woodruff (1978): “Does the chimpanzee have a “theory of mind”?”
-What is a theory of mind?
Major developmental milestone:
Developing a Representational Theory of Mind (around age 4)
-Understanding that the mind represents reality rather than directly reflecting it
-There can be discrepancies between reality and representation of reality (e.g., false
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Monday, April 3, 2017
Before acquiring a Representational ToM, children can reason well about people’s goals and
-Understand that people are motivated by desires and will
Persist until achieve goal
Overcome obstacles to achieve goal
Experience positive emotion when obtaining goal
Experience negative emotion when failing to obtain goal
-Reasoning About Desires
Experimental strategy: conflicting beliefs and desires are most revealing
2.5-year-old children heard short stories
-Made predictions about characters’ future actions or emotional states
Do 2.5-year-olds understand the impact of desires on people’s behavior?
Repacholi & Gopnik (1997) study
Finds-Wanted Stories: “Here’s Johnny. He wants to find his dog. His dog might be in the
house or it might be in the garage. So, he’s looking for his dog. Watch, he’s looking for his
dog in the garage. Look. He finds his dog.”
Finds-Nothing Stories: “Here’s Betsy. She wants to find her horse. Her horse might be in
the red barn, or it might be in the green barn. So, she's going to look for her horse. Watch,
she’s looking for her horse in the green barn. Look. She doesn’t find her horse.”
Finds-Substitute Stories: “Here’s Annie. She wants to find her crayons. Her crayons might
be in the desk, or they might be in the toybox. So, she's going to look for her crayons.
Watch, she’s looking for her crayons in the toybox. Look. She finds some mittens.”
1. What will he do next? (search in new location or stop searching?
2. Will he feel happy or sad?
-Finds- Wanted
-Finds- Nothing
-Finds- Substitute
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