The Theory Of Mind : A Fundamental Aspect Of Human Development And Intelligence

1082 Words Nov 13th, 2016 5 Pages
‘Theory of mind’ is the idea that humans can interpret and understand the desires of others. Psychologists have argued that the ability to appreciate the minds of others is a fundamental aspect of human development and intelligence. Searching for this same capacity for mind-reading in non-humans has long been an area of interest in Psychology, as this could pave the way for a fuller understanding of intelligence in animals. This essay begins by describing the first study into theory of mind in non-humans, specifically in Chimpanzees. Ground-breaking as the research was, limitations will be identified in terms of human interference and behavioural norms. Similar studies will be discussed which build on the initial research in an attempt to better highlight the existence of theory of mind. Finally, other insights into what theory of mind might pertain to in terms of perspectives of others will be discussed.
Premack and Woodruff first argued the ability for Chimpanzees to comprehend humans’ ‘mental states’ in 1978. They hoped their study would demonstrate an observable appreciation of human goals and desires which would constitute what they called a theory of mind. (Hewson et al. 2015) The original study involved showing adult chimpanzees several recorded video tapes of a human faced with obstacles of various complexity, with an end goal of retrieving a hanging banana. A more complex scenario involved watching a person move heavy blocks into a position where once climbed, the…

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