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Social Cognition is not Reducible to Theory of Mind. When Children use Deontic Rules to Predict Others' Behaviors
British Journal of Developmental Psychology
The objective of this paper is to discuss whether children have a capacity for deonticreasoning that is irreducible to mentalizing. The results of two experiments point tothe existence of such non-mentalistic understanding and prediction of the behaviourof others. In Study 1, young children (3- and 4-year-olds) were told different versionsof classic false-belief tasks, some of which were modified by the introduction of a ruleor a regularity. When the task (a standard change of location task) included a rule, theperformance of 3-year-olds, who fail traditional false-belief tasks, significantly improved.In Study 2, 3-year-olds proved to be able to infer a rule from a social situation and touse it in order to predict the behaviour of a character involved in a modified versionof the false-belief task. These studies suggest that rules play a central role in the socialcognition of young children and that deontic reasoning might not necessarily involvemind reading.
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