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date: 23 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Current accounts of Theory of Mind development have tried to explain the results of false-belief tasks with infants and children, but failed to account for the evidence of early belief reasoning reported in the experimental pragmatics literature. This chapter reviews a number of studies on the acquisition of the mental state verb know; toddlers’ understanding of factivity (or the difference between knowing and thinking); early referential communication and toddlers’ reliance on others’ engagement as a proxy for their knowledge, and the emergence of preschoolers’ understanding of the seeing-knowing relation. The results of these studies reveal a more nuanced picture than those of false-belief tasks, with some Theory of Mind abilities emerging earlier in conversation than in laboratory tasks, while children’s epistemic theories continue to develop beyond their passing of standard Theory of Mind tasks.

Keywords: Theory of Mind, false-belief tasks, acquisition of mental state verbs, early referential communication, the seeing-knowing relation

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