The cultural evolution of mind reading

  title={The cultural evolution of mind reading},
  author={Cecilia Heyes and ChrisD . Frith},
Background We use “theory of mind” or “mind reading” to understand our own thoughts and feelings and those of other agents. Mind reading has been a focus of philosophical interest for centuries and of intensive scientific inquiry for 35 years. It plays a pivotal role in human social interaction and communication. Mind reading allows us to predict, explain, mold, and manipulate each other’s behavior in ways that go well beyond the capabilities of other animals; therefore, mind reading is crucial… 

Understanding individual differences in theory of mind via representation of minds, not mental states

It is suggested that theoretical and empirical progress on understanding the mechanisms underlying mind representation can be achieved by adopting a ‘Mind-space’ framework, which can accommodate the representation of whole cognitive systems and may help to explain individual differences in the consistency and accuracy with which the mental states of others are inferred.

Animal mindreading: what’s the problem?

  • C. Heyes
  • Psychology
    Psychonomic bulletin & review
  • 2015
This article suggests that the problems are theoretical and methodological: there is difficulty in conceptualising alternatives to ‘full-blown’ mindreading, and reluctance to use the kinds of empirical methods necessary to distinguish mindreading from other psychological mechanisms.

The impact of culture on mindreading

It is concluded that any good account of social cognition must have the conceptual resources to explain how culture affects the authors' understanding of psychological states, and that this explanandum should not be an after-thought but instead a guiding feature for those accounts.

Edinburgh Explorer The impact of culture on mindreading

The role of culture in shaping folk psychology and mindreading has been neglected in the philosophical literature. This paper shows that there are significant cultural differences in how psychological

Theory of mind in animals: Current and future directions.

The literature on ToM in nonhuman animals is reviewed, suggesting that some species share foundational social cognitive mechanisms with humans, and principally on innovations of the last decade and pressing directions for future work.

Thinking through other minds: A variational approach to cognition and culture

It is argued that for humans, information from and about other people's expectations constitutes the primary domain of statistical regularities that humans leverage to predict and organize behaviour.

Theory of mind and language evolution: an exploration of rapid and involuntary perspective-taking

Current research on language evolution has provided considerable insight into the emergence of linguistic structure, but much of this research does not account for how language users access speaker

God's mind on morality

Abstract Abstract Most research on cognition behind religious belief assumes that understanding of other minds is culturally uniform and follows the Western model of mind, which posits that (a)

The cultural evolution of mind-modelling

It is argued that uniquely human forms of ‘Theory of Mind’ (or ‘ToM’) are a product of cultural evolution, and are not required for language development, such that an account of the cultural origins of ToM does not jeopardise the explanation of language development.

The origins of mindreading: how interpretive socio-cognitive practices get off the ground

A model of how the ascription of mental states may have evolved as a linguistic device to perform exactly this function of making agents’ practical commitments explicit is proposed and motivated by arguing that many forms of mental state ascription do not serve the function of simply describing inner states causally responsible for the behavior of a cognitive agent.



The Social Sense: Susceptibility to Others’ Beliefs in Human Infants and Adults

It is shown that adults and 7-month-olds automatically encode others” beliefs, and that, surprisingly, others’ beliefs have similar effects as the participants’ own beliefs.

Grist and mills: on the cultural origins of cultural learning

  • C. Heyes
  • Psychology, Biology
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2012
It is found that recent empirical work in comparative psychology, developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience provides surprisingly little evidence of genetic adaptation, and ample evidence of cultural adaptation, raising the possibility that it is not only ‘grist’ but also ‘mills’ that are culturally inherited.

Alvin I. GoldmanSimulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience of Mindreading

  • N. Gangopadhyay
  • Psychology
    The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
  • 2011
Alvin I. Goldman’s Simulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience of Mindreading is a major contribution from a philosopher to the interdisciplinary debate on how we attribute mental

Ethnopsychologies: cultural variations in theories of mind.

Several aspects of European American theory of mind with other cultural models, as suggested by experiments and ethnographies, are compared with the purpose of illuminating the degree to which there is variation in folk psychology.

Submentalizing: I Am Not Really Reading Your Mind

  • C. Heyes
  • Psychology
    Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science
  • 2014
This article takes a close look at the strongest evidence of implicit mentalizing in adults, which suggests that people automatically represent what others see, intend, and believe, and suggests that the same domain-general processes can provide a fast and efficient alternative tomentalizing in everyday life.

Constructing an understanding of mind: The development of children's social understanding within social interaction

Evidence suggesting that children's understanding of mind develops gradually in the context of social interaction is reviewed, and a theory of development is needed that accords a fundamental role to social interaction, yet does not assume that children simply adopt socially available knowledge but rather that children construct an understanding ofMind within social interaction.

False belief in infancy: a fresh look.

  • C. Heyes
  • Psychology
    Developmental science
  • 2014
It is suggested that the use of two experimental strategies - inanimate control procedures, and self-informed belief induction - could be used in combination with existing methods to bring us much closer to understanding the evolutionary and developmental origins of theory of mind.

Mindblind Eyes: An Absence of Spontaneous Theory of Mind in Asperger Syndrome

An eye-tracking task that has revealed the spontaneous ability to mentalize in typically developing infants is used, and it is shown that, like infants, neurotypical adults’ eye movements anticipated an actor’s behavior on the basis of her false belief.

The role of language in the development of false belief understanding: a training study.

Children showed most improvement in a condition using both perspective-shifting discourse and sentential complement syntax, suggesting that each of these types of linguistic experience plays an independent role in the ontogeny of false belief understanding.

Synchrony in the onset of mental state understanding across cultures? A study among children in Samoa

The development of false belief understanding in Samoa was investigated in two studies testing more than 300 children. Children’s understanding was assessed with a change of location task. The