Theory of Mind

  • Theory of mind is the term used to describe the understanding of beliefs, desires, motivations, and emotions as mental states that are ascribed to
    one’s self and others.
  • Theory of mind (ToM) refers to the ability to represent the mental states of others and/or to make inferences about another’s intentions.
  • ToM is a specific cognitive ability to understand others as intentional agents.
  • ToM means being able to infer the full range of mental states (beliefs, desires, intentions, imagination, emotions, etc.) that cause action
  • Theory of Mind is the branch of cognitive science that investigates how we ascribe mental states to other persons and how we use the states to explain and predict the actions of those other persons. (Marraffa, 2001)
  • The theory of mind difficulties are core cognitive features of autism
    spectrum conditions. (Baron-Cohen, 2000).
  • Individuals with schizophrenia have impairments in ToM that appear to be independent from general cognitive abilities.

  • An understanding of the mind is fundamental to an understanding of the social world.
  • It allows us to distinguish between accidental and intended behavior, and truth and deception.
  1. Brune M and Brune-Cohrs U(2006). Theory of mind–evolution, ontogeny,
    brain mechanisms and psychopathology. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral
    Reviews; 2006, 30:4, 437–455.
  2. Baron-Cohen S (2001). Theory of mind in normal development and autism. Prisme, 34, 174-183.
  3. Marraffa M. (2011). Theory of Mind. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Available at Accessed on 1/2/2012.


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