chapter  8
25 Pages

The Social Face of Theory of Mind: The Development of Concepts of Emotion, Desire, Visual Perspective, and False Belief in Deaf and Hearing Children

WithCandida C. Peterson

The ability to infer mental states like intentions, memories, desires, and beliefs, and to use these for understanding and predicting the behavior of self and others, is “one of the quintessential abilities that makes us human” (Baron-Cohen, 2000, p. 3). Known as a “theory of mind” (ToM), this capacity is frequently equated with success on inferential false-belief tests that require children to predict what a protagonist will do, say, or think when in the grip of a mistaken belief (Flavell, 1999; Wellman, 1993). A large body of research over the past 15 years shows that most typically developing 4-to 5-year-old children consistently pass these tests (Wellman, Cross, & Watson, 2001), whereas failure is routine among normal 3-year-olds and children, adolescents, and adults with autism (BaronCohen, Leslie, & Frith, 1985; Baron-Cohen, Tager-Flusberg, & Cohen, 2000; Tager-Flusberg, this volume).