chapter  11
29 Pages

Theory of Mind and Social Dysfunction: Psychotic Solipsism Versus Autistic Asociality

WithRobyn Langdon

Premack remack and Woodruff (1978) coined the term theory of mind to refer to an ability to impute causal mental states in order to explain and predict Premack behavior. Other authors prefer the terms “mind reading” (Baron-Cohen, 1995) and “mentalizing” (Frith, Morton & Leslie, 1991) because this capacity to “read minds” may or may not rely primarily upon the acquisition and use of a knowledge base about mental states and rules of inference concerning how mental states relate to behavior (i.e., a theory of mind).1 The empirical standard traditionally used to assess whether an individual has an intact theory of mind is demonstrated understanding that intentional agents can act on the basis of beliefs that misrepresent the true state of affairs (Dennett, 1978; Pylyshyn, 1978). For example, in a classic false-belief task, a research participant must predict that another person can act on the basis of a belief that that participant knows to misrepresent the true state of affairs. Likewise, in a standard deception task, a research participant must, in order to gain some strategic advantage, manipulate an opponent into forming a belief that that participant knows to misrepresent the true state of affairs.