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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses several adult-like intuitions about the flow of mental life and reviews research on when children acquire them. It explores when children understand that thoughts connect to other mental events, creating a stream of consciousness that is person-specific and sometimes uncontrollable. Much of this knowledge develops beyond age four, making it a relatively late theory of mind acquisition. Two factors are proposed to account for this development: growing introspection abilities and increased discussion about the mind. Certain thoughts (emotional ones and those occurring during imagination) are hypothesized to promote these factors, thereby leading to children's earliest insights about the mental flow. Future research is needed to verify these claims and determine the real-world consequences of these intuitions.

Keywords: imagination, introspection, mental flow, stream of consciousness, theory of mind

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