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Attribution Of Intentionality And Theory Of Mind In Pre School And School Aged Children

3717 words - 15 pages

The ability of understanding intentions of others is very important for social development of children (Feinfield, Lee, Flavell, Green, & Flavell, 1999). By means of understanding intentions children can make sense of that people and animates are different from objects (Feinfield, et al., 1999). According to Shantz (1983), this ability is the requisite to understand morality and responsibility. To understand plans and planning we also need to have the ability of understanding intentions (Feinfield, et al., 1999). In addition, Feinfield and colleagues stated that acquiring the ability of understanding intentions of others is also important for the cognitive development of the children such as theory of mind (ToM) that is “the understanding that others have beliefs, intentions and desires different from one’s own” (Kelly, 2011; p. 5). For these stated reasons many researchers have conducted various studies about the ability of understanding intentions of others. Several studies were carried out to determine when children begin to develop the ability of understanding intentions, which factors have an impact on this ability, how these factors influence the intention attribution and what the role of intention attribution plays for the associations between cognitive capacities and moral reasoning.

One of the factors that are related to development of understanding intentions of others is theory of mind competence of the children (Kelly, 2011). Therefore, there are various researches that examined the development of understanding of intentions, its relations with ToM, direction of the relation and the role of the intention attribution as a sphere between ToM and moral judgment. In the present paper, the review of 9 studies that investigated both the intentionality and theory of mind is made to draw the accurate and conclusive picture that answered all relevant questions in the field.

First of all, the question when children begin to acquire the ability of understanding the intentions was studied to determine the developmental trajectory of this ability. According to Piaget, children started to reflect an understanding of intentions in behavior over the age of 7 years of age (Kelly, 2011). However, more recent studies showed that children could have this understanding earlier. One of these studies was conducted by Carpenter, Akhtar and Tomasello in 1998. The participants of the study by Carpenter and her colleagues (1998) are 20 infants aged 14-18 months. In the study, infants are measured with an implicit measure in which they observed an adult that exhibit two actions on objects with one of the discriminative cues that was saying either “Woops!” that refers to accidental actions or “There!” that refers to intentional ones. There were three conditions: an intentional action followed by an accidental one (I-A condition), an accidental action followed by an intentional one (A-I condition) and also two intentional actions (I-I condition). Each...

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