ERIC Number: EJ1030644
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 75
Theory of Mind: Understanding Young Children's Pretence and Mental States
Saracho, Olivia N.
Early Child Development and Care, v184 n8 p1281-1294 2014
For more than two decades, research has focused on the understanding of pretence as an important means for young children to conceptualise the mind. Many use the phrase "mental representation" to a mental model of some entity or concept, which describes what is inside the minds of young children in relation to a real-world situation or object. Studies indicate a strong relationship between the children's ability to engage in pretence and their ability to understand the minds of others, which many refer to as theory of mind. Theory of mind is the ability to ascribe mental states (e.g. beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge) to oneself and others as well as to recognise that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that differ from one's own. The metarepresentational theory of pretence indicates the beginning of the emerging ability to develop mental states. The cognitivist theoretical account focuses on the representational mechanisms underlying pretence. It also makes it possible for researchers to examine in some detail the children's thought processes during pretence, which contributes to systematic generalisations on the relationship between pretence and theory of mind. The purpose of this article is to provide a theoretical description and background on the cognitive theory of pretence. This framework expands the young children's ability of representation, generating the ability for "metarepresentation". This model also supports pretence as an early expression of the ability to understand mental states, which motivates them to pretend and to understand pretence in others. Then the article describes and provides examples of pretence in relation to mental representation, theory of mind, and mental states. Finally, it summarises the understanding of children's pretence, mental states, and theory of mind.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Information Analyses
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