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Why the child's theory of mind really is a theory

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... Three major positions, outlined in brief already in chapter 1, have been identified concerning the nature of the underlying cognitive mechanisms that lead to the development of mature theory of mind by about four years of age. These are the innate modularist approach (Fodor, 1992;Leslie, 1987;, the simulationist view (Gordon, 1995;Harris, 1991;, and the theory-theory position (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Perner, 1991). In chapter 1 we contrasted these formulations from the standpoint of the account they might give of the integration of attachment processes with the development of theory of mind. ...
... In his view, attributing false beliefs is delayed because of performance limitations in attending to and learning about the causal conditions of belief fixation (for example, that perception leads to knowledge) (see Leslie & Roth, 1993). In contrast, Perner and others (e.g., Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Perner, 1991; argue that before four years children do not yet understand intentional mind states 'as representations', that is, as mental states that are 'about' some (real or hypothetical) state of affairs and that can be evaluated as true or false in relation to such a state of affairs . Perner (2000) also argues that understanding beliefs 'as representations' is also a necessary requirement for understanding that actions are mentally caused by representations of reality rather than by reality itself. ...
... As Premack and Woodruff explain, "A system of inferences of this kind is properly viewed as a theory because such states are not directly observable, and the system can be used to make predictions about the behavior of others" (515). According to the theory-theory, a prominent account of how we understand other minds, we come to know other minds using a folk-psychological theory (Churchland, 1991;Carruthers, 1996;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992). The theory-theory proposes that our understanding of other minds is the result of postulating mental states understood as "abstract unobservable entities" to best explain observable behavior and predict future behavior (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992, 148). ...
... So, our understanding of others' minds involves "theoretical constructs," such as perceptions, desires, and beliefs, that "go beyond the focal evidential phenomena" (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992, 153). This posited theory of how we come to understand other minds also requires attributing to mindreaders an understanding of coherent law-like relations between theoretical constructs of mental states and sensory input from the external world, overt behavior, and other mental states (Churchland, 1991;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Carruthers, 1996), such as "If S desires a certain outcome G and S believes that by performing a certain action A she will obtain G, then ceteris paribus S will decide to perform A" (Barlassina & Gordon, 2017). The general idea is that knowing or understanding other minds is a matter of theoretical reasoning that yields mental state attributions, which enable one to predict and explain the behavior of others (Avramides, 2020). ...
Article
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Minimal theory of mind (ToM) is presented in the theory of mind literature as a middle ground between full-blown ToM and mere behavior-reading. Minimal ToM seems to be a useful construct for studying and understanding the minds of nonhuman animals and infants. However, providing an account of minimal ToM on which minimal mindreading is significantly less demanding than full-blown mindreading yet more than just a behavior-reading process is a challenge. In this paper, I argue that to address this challenge, we need to depart from the traditional framework of mindreading in more radical ways than offered by current minimal theory of mind accounts. First, I explain the traditional view of mindreading on which mental state attribution is treated as essential for mindreading and analyze the general respects in which it makes mindreading demanding for the mindreader, such as requiring the mindreader to have concepts of mental states, engage in inferential reasoning processes involving mental states, and form meta-representations. Then I discuss and critically evaluate two accounts of minimal ToM and argue that these accounts either do not depart sufficiently from the demanding requirements of traditional mindreading or risk becoming re-descriptions of behavior-reading accounts. Finally, I present an alternative Millikanian account of minimal ToM that avoids this risk while departing more radically from the traditional view of mindreading by providing a way for minimal mindreaders to represent the mental states of others and respond to them without engaging in conceptual mental state attribution.
... Theory of mind (ToM) is the ability to recognize the distinct emotional and mental processes for self and other people [9,10]. ToM has a major impact on the social competency of children, as well as executive functions [9,10]. ...
... Theory of mind (ToM) is the ability to recognize the distinct emotional and mental processes for self and other people [9,10]. ToM has a major impact on the social competency of children, as well as executive functions [9,10]. Executive function deficits are the major components of ADHD, affecting the required organization, reasoning, and problem-solving skills [11]. ...
Article
Objective Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is associated with significant pragmatic language impairment and theory of mind deficits, but there are only a handful of studies have investigated the relationship between them in these conditions. This study aimed that investigate two different aspects of Theory of Mind (ToM) (ToM decoding and reasoning), pragmatic language impairment, and emotion regulation in patients with ADHD. Method Seventy adolescents with ADHD were compared to matched 64 healthy controls. We administered Social Responsiveness Scale-2 (SRS-2), Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), Kiddie-SADS, Conners Parent Rating Scale, Children’s Communication Checklist-2 (CCC-2), Faux Pas, Comprehension Test, and Reading Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) to all study participants. Results The CCC-2 scores were found to be statistically significantly higher in the ADHD group than in healthy controls. ADHD group had lower performance in the Faces Test and RMET compared to healthy controls, which did not survive from false discovery rate correction. We also found that CCC-2 performance and Conners scores were significant predictors of social responsiveness. Conclusion Our results point to widespread impairment in pragmatic language use and communication from many perspectives. These results might be important to understand the difficulties in social functioning and interpersonal relationship in adolescents with ADHD. • Key points • ADHD is associated with significant impairment in pragmatic language use and social cognitive functions. • ToM-Decoding (RMET) is impaired much more than ToM-Reasoning (Faux Pas) in ADHD. • Pragmatic language skills and severity of ADHD may be significant predictors of social responsiveness. • Emotion regulation problems may affect communication and pragmatic language use.
... The picture is no different for the influential theory-theory of mind (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Wellman, 1992), according to which people infer the mental states of others to best explain their behavior. That is, an observer builds a "model" of the thoughts of the other. ...
... We suggest the opposite: that the mutual prediction that is essential to social interactions generates a paradox that psychological theories ignore at their peril. Thus, theoretical accounts that see social interaction as involving each person predicting the other's behavior (Tamir & Thornton, 2018), reading their mental states (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992), or forming first-, second-, or higher-order beliefs about others (e.g., Liddle & Nettle, 2006) will inevitably be incomplete. More generally, theories that aim to explain social behavior in terms of reasons are coherent only to the extent that the reasons that they provide are rationally coherent-and hence free of paradoxes. ...
Article
Social interaction is both ubiquitous and central to understanding human behavior. Such interactions depend, we argue, on shared intentionality: the parties must form a common understanding of an ambiguous interaction (e.g., one person giving a present to another requires that both parties appreciate that a voluntary transfer of ownership is intended). Yet how can shared intentionality arise? Many well-known accounts of social cognition, including those involving "mind-reading," typically fall into circularity and/or regress. For example, A's beliefs and behavior may depend on her prediction of B's beliefs and behavior, but B's beliefs and behavior depend in turn on her prediction of A's beliefs and behavior. One possibility is to embrace circularity and take shared intentionality as imposing consistency conditions on beliefs and behavior, but typically there are many possible solutions and no clear criteria for choosing between them. We argue that addressing these challenges requires some form of we-reasoning, but that this raises the puzzle of how the collective agent (the "we") arises from the individual agents. This puzzle can be solved by proposing that the will of the collective agent arises from a simulated process of bargaining: agents must infer what they would agree, were they able to communicate. This model explains how, and which, shared intentions are formed. We also propose that such "virtual bargaining" may be fundamental to understanding social interactions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Three major positions, outlined in brief already in chapter 1, have been identified concerning the nature of the underlying cognitive mechanisms that lead to the development of mature theory of mind by about four years of age. These are the innate modularist approach (Fodor, 1992;Leslie, 1987;, the simulationist view (Gordon, 1995;Harris, 1991;, and the theory-theory position (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Perner, 1991). In chapter 1 we contrasted these formulations from the standpoint of the account they might give of the integration of attachment processes with the development of theory of mind. ...
... In his view, attributing false beliefs is delayed because of performance limitations in attending to and learning about the causal conditions of belief fixation (for example, that perception leads to knowledge) (see Leslie & Roth, 1993). In contrast, Perner and others (e.g., Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Perner, 1991; argue that before four years children do not yet understand intentional mind states 'as representations', that is, as mental states that are 'about' some (real or hypothetical) state of affairs and that can be evaluated as true or false in relation to such a state of affairs . Perner (2000) also argues that understanding beliefs 'as representations' is also a necessary requirement for understanding that actions are mentally caused by representations of reality rather than by reality itself. ...
... Broadly construed, the debate on social cognition was long stuck in the dispute between Theory Theory (TT) (e.g. Baron-Cohen, 1995;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992) and Simulation Theory (ST) (e.g. Goldman, 2006), or combinations thereof. ...
... First, according to defenders of TT, mindreading relies on the deployment of a folk psychological theory, i.e. a coherent system of law-like assumptions, used for systematic inferences about the mental states of others. This ability is supposed to depend either on a dynamic process of prediction, learning, and modification (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992) or the maturing of an innate module (Baron-Cohen, 1995). These accounts disagree with respect to the acquirement of mindreading abilities, but define mindreading in terms of theory-based inference-making. ...
Conference Paper
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How do we manage to understand the minds of others and usefully interact with them? In the last decade, the debate on these issues has developed from unitary to pluralist approaches. According to the latter, we make use of multiple socio-cognitive strategies when predicting, interpretating, and reacting to the behavior of others. This means a departure from the view of mindreading as the main strategy underlying social cognition. In this paper, we address the question of the controversial status of mindreading within such a pluralist framework. Contrary to many other accounts, we ascribe mindreading an equal status in a pluralist framework. Mindreading is required for a variety of central situations in life and importantly underlies the way in which we understand other people. Mindreading is also no less reliable than alternative strategies; reliability is not so much a matter of different competing socio-cognitive strategies, but rather of their complementary use.
... Psychologists have conducted extensive programs of research into aspects of epistemic reasoning, such as the ability to understand false beliefs (e.g., Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Perner, Huemer, & Leahy, 2015;Saxe, Carey, & Kanwisher, 2004) and certain egocentric biases that occur when individuals know things that others don't know (Birch & Bloom, 2007;Surtees & Apperly, 2012). And research into the acquisition of verbs such as know, think, guess, and believe (e.g., Kuhn, 1989;Kuhn et al., 1995;Montgomery, 1992;Sodian & Wimmer, 1987) shows that epistemic verbs mature at different rates, e.g., children understand verb know before they understand think, and the verb guess matures well into later childhood (Abbeduto & Rosenburg, 1985). ...
... A viable theory of epistemic reasoning must explain at least two things: how people distinguish factives from nonfactives, and how they mentally represent embedded epistemic relations. Indeed, many researchers have examined specific scenarios that concern embedded epistemic relations: false belief tasks concern a scenario in which one agent knows that another agent's belief is false (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Perner, Huemer, & Leahy, 2015;Saxe, Carey, & Kanwisher, 2004). But no general theory explains how adults reason about epistemic relations such as know and think. ...
Conference Paper
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Verbs such as 'know' and 'think' help people describe mental states, and reasoners without any training in logic can make epistemic inferences about mental states. For instance, verbs such as 'know' are factive, i.e., they describe true propositions, and the statement Ora knows that it's sunny licenses the inference that it's sunny. Logicians have accordingly developed epistemic logics capable of characterizing valid and invalid epistemic inferences based on operators that serve as analogs to verbs such as 'know' and 'think'. Recent work suggests that no existing logical system can capture the inferences that naïve individuals tend to make. This paper describes a new theory of epistemic reasoning that operates on the assumption that reasoners represent epistemic relations as spatial models. The theory accords with recent theoretical advances, existing data, as well as two novel experiments that show how reasoners cope with nested epistemic verbs, e.g., Ami knows that Ora thinks it's sunny.
... My use of the second-person pronoun signals my interpersonal self-consciousness with respect to you. (Salje 2017, p. 826) For theory-theory see see Baron-Cohen (1995), and Gopnik & Wellman (1992). For simulation 6 theory, see Gordon (1986) and Heal (1998). ...
Conference Paper
In this thesis, I provide an account of a certain form of interpersonal self-consciousness and its role in human social life. In Part One, I argue that (i) the feeling of self-consciousness before another’s gaze, (ii) the special form of interpersonal connection constitutive of eye contact and (iii) the form of mutual openness involved in joint attention cannot be understood either as being reducible to the ontologically antecedent psychological states of each individual (as suggested by ‘The Reductive Approach’), nor in terms of an irreducible second person relation (as suggested by ‘The Second Person Approach’). Instead, I outline and defend a ‘Transactional Approach’ according to which, when I feel self-conscious before another’s gaze I am conscious of myself as being acted upon by the other through their gaze (Chapter One). This provides the basis for an account of eye contact as a ‘mutual transaction’ (Chapter Two) and an account of joint attention (Chapter Three). This account of joint attention, in turn, provides a basis for understanding the Aristotelian idea that human social life is distinctive in the way it is characterised by a special form of co-consciousness. In Part Two, this approach is developed to provide an account of humiliation (Chapter Four) and shame (Chapter Five). These emotions tend to be understood in terms of The Reductive Approach. However, in each instance I argue that The Reductive Approach faces serious difficulties in making sense of them and their proper place in human social life. The Transactional Approach, on the other hand, is shown to have the resources to provide a more plausible account of these emotions.
... Much of the prior research on higher-order epistemic reasoning focuses on developmental aspects-when and how do children acquire the ability to think about what others know (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992)? Through the influential empirical paradigm of the "false-belief task", where children read † Preprint of May 2021. ...
Preprint
Reasoning about what other people know is an important cognitive ability, known as epistemic reasoning, which has fascinated psychologists, economists, and logicians. In this paper, we propose a computational model of humans’ epistemic reasoning, including higher-order epistemic reasoning—reasoning about what one person knows about another person’s knowledge—that we test in an experiment using a deductive card game called “Aces and Eights”. Our starting point is the model of perfect higher-order epistemic reasoners given by the framework of dynamic epistemic logic. We modify this idealized model with bounds on the level of feasible epistemic reasoning and stochastic update of a player’s space of possibilities in response to new information. These modifications are crucial for explaining the variation in human performance across different participants and different games in the experiment. Our results demonstrate how research on epistemic logic and cognitive models can inform each other.
... en??es that make up intui?ve theories have to be abstract enough to allow one to 'go beyond' the evidence. The Heider & Simmel example comes from the domain of intui?ve psychology (Premack & Woodruff, 1978;Wellman, 1990;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992 the future trajectories of moving objects will be, or about the of rela?ve mass of objects based on their behavior in a collision event (McCloskey, 1983;Kubricht, Holyoak, & Lu, 2017). ...
Chapter
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Intuitive theories are sets of integrated concepts and causal laws that people adopt to comprehend, explain, and predict certain phenomena they encounter in the world. These theories are ‘intuitive’ because they are thought to drive our intuitions about how the physical and biological world, the mental life of people, and the society we live in work, without meeting the standards of explicit scientific theorizing. The proposal that people adopt such theories has been around at least since the 1970s. However, how psychologists think about intuitive theories has been changing since they have been first proposed. In this chapter, we provide a short overview of the approaches to the function of intuitive theories and belief-forming systems more generally. While early characterization of intuitive theories emphasized their epistemic function, later attempts took an evolutionary view, claiming that they serve adaptive functions that are not always aligned with the goal of accurately tracking environmental states. A recent twist in this story is the proposal that shared intuitive theories may also serve social functions by providing a ‘theoretical common ground’ on which people interpret unobservable entities, such as memories, character traits, entitlements, and obligations. Such shared theories might be essential for social coordination via communication.
... One of these, is the Theory of Theory (Gopnik and Wellman, [5]) according to which mental activity is based on knowledge that occurs empirically and the child acquires them during development by learning to discriminate real situations from hypothetical ones. In this way, a theory of the Theory of Mind is developed, and it allows him to infer mental representations and to construct his own representation of the world. ...
... Psychologist frequently invoke the metaphor of people as lay scientists, who generate hypotheses about the world and gather supporting or contradictory evidence for these hypotheses through observation or mental simulation (Gopnik & Meltzoff, 1997;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992). ...
Article
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The present research (total N = 2,057) tested whether people's folk conception of consciousness aligns with the notion of a "Cartesian Theater" (Dennett, 1991). More precisely, we tested the hypotheses that people believe that consciousness happens in a single, confined area (vs. multiple dispersed areas) in the human brain, and that it (partly) happens after the brain finished analyzing all available information. Further, we investigated how these beliefs are related to participants' neuroscientific knowledge as well as their reliance on intuition, and which rationale they use to explain their responses. Using a computer-administered drawing task, we found that participants located consciousness, but not unrelated neurological processes (Studies 1a & 1b) or unconscious thinking (Study 2) in a single, confined area in the prefrontal cortex, and that they considered most of the brain not involved in consciousness. Participants mostly relied on their intuitions when responding, and they were not affected by prior knowledge about the brain. Additionally, they considered the conscious experience of sensory stimuli to happen in a spatially more confined area than the corresponding computational analysis of these stimuli (Study 3). Furthermore, participants' explicit beliefs about spatial and temporal localization of consciousness (i.e., consciousness happening after the computational analysis of sensory information is completed) are independent, yet positively correlated beliefs (Study 4). Using a more elaborate measure for temporal localization of conscious experience, our final study confirmed that people believe consciousness to partly happen even after information processing is done (Study 5).
... ToM models come in a few variants, the most notable of which in the present context are nativism (Carruthers, 2013(Carruthers, , 2015Fodor, 1992;Leslie, Friedman, & German, 2004;Scott & Baillargeon, 2017;Westra, 2017), and rational constructivism (theory theory) (Gopnik, 2011;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Meltzoff & Gopnik, 2013;Wellman, 2014). 1 The underlying presupposition that unites these otherwise divergent views is that social cognition is underwritten by a mental-state attribution mechanismthe titular ToM. The mechanism is claimed to be indispensable in competent social interaction; it is thanks to sub-personal mindreading (i.e. ...
Article
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We argue that the traditional theory of mind models of social cognition face in-principle problems in accounting for enculturation of social cognition, and offer an alternative model advanced within the interactivist framework. In the critical section, we argue that theory of mind accounts’ encodingist model of mental representation renders them unable to account for enculturation. We focus on the three problems: (1) the copy problem and impossibility of internalization; (2) foundationalism and the impossibility of acquisition of culturally specific content; and (3) the frame problems and the inadequacy of mental-state attribution as a way of coordinating social interaction among (encultured) individuals. The positive section begins with a brief sketch of the theoretical basics of interactivism, followed by a more focused presentation of the interactivist model of social cognition, and concludes with a discussion of a number of issues most widely debated in the social cognition literature.
... Our folk psychological understanding of one another has traditionally been thought of as a fundamentally descriptive enterprise-one that allows us to understand, explain, and predict each other's behaviour, without thereby exerting any influence over that behaviour. This can be seen both in theory-theory, which understands folk psychology as a body of theoretical knowledge that facilitates the prediction of behaviour (e.g., Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Leslie, 1994;Leslie, 2000;Morton, 1980), and also in simulation theory, which understands folk psychology as a process of using our own cognitive systems to simulate the cognition of others (e.g., Goldman, 1989Goldman, , 2006Gordon, 1986;Heal, 1986). In both cases folk psychology is characterised passively, in terms of receiving and interpreting information about another's behaviour. ...
Article
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Our aim in this paper is to explore two possible directions of interaction between normative folk psychology and decision theory. In one direction, folk psychology plays a regulative role that constrains practical decision‐making. In the other direction, decision theory provides novel tools and norms that shape folk psychology. We argue that these interactions could lead to the emergence of an iterative “decision theoretic spiral," where folk psychology influences decision‐making, decision‐making is studied by decision theory, and decision theory influences folk psychology. Understanding these interactions is important both for the theoretical study of social cognition and decision theory, and also for thinking about how to implement practical interventions into real‐world decision‐making.
... But they also raise essential tensions. If children are little scientists (or if scientists are big children; Gopnik & Wellman 1992), we need to explain why science is so hard to do and so hard to teach. If children all over were building intuitive theories tens of thousands of years ago, we need to explain why capital-S Science is often traced to a particular moment in time, such as the formalization of experimentation as a method several hundred years ago, or the move from agents to objects as the basis for explanation (e.g., Thagard 2008). ...
Article
A Bayesian framework helps address, in computational terms, what knowledge children start with and how they construct and adapt models of the world during childhood. Within this framework, inference over hierarchies of probabilistic generative programs in particular offers a normative and descriptive account of children's model building. We consider two classic settings in which cognitive development has been framed as model building: ( a) core knowledge in infancy and ( b) the child as scientist. We interpret learning in both of these settings as resource-constrained, hierarchical Bayesian program induction with different primitives and constraints. We examine what mechanisms children could use to meet the algorithmic challenges of navigating large spaces of potential models, in particular the proposal of the child as hacker and how it might be realized by drawing on recent computational advances. We also discuss prospects for a unifying account of model building across scientific theories and intuitive theories, and in biological and cultural evolution more generally.
... Philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists have proposed two different families of models of how we ascribe mental states, such as beliefs, desires, action plans, or intentions: the Theory Theory (e.g., Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Nichols & Stich, 2003) and Simulation Theory (e.g., Goldman, 1992Goldman, , 2006. Theory Theory Models claim that we ascribe mental states on the basis of a folk-psychological theory, while Simulation Theory models hold that mental state attribution results from the ascriber simulating what kind of mental states they would have, were they in the ascribee's situation. ...
Chapter
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In this paper, we call for a new approach to the psychology of free will attribution. While past research in experimental philosophy and psychology has mostly been focused on reasoning-based judgment ("the courtroom approach"), we argue that like agency and mindedness, free will can also be experienced perceptually ("the perceptual approach"). We further propose a new model of free will attribution-the agency model-according to which the experience of free will is elicited by the perceptual cues that prompt the attribution of agency. Finally, developing new stimuli that fit the perceptual approach, we present some preliminary evidence in support of the agency model.
... According to TT, mindreading requires inference-making based on a folk psychological theory, i.e. a system of law-like generalizations that is used to infer the mental states of others and derive their future actions. For example, Gopnik and Wellman (1992) argue that in ontogenetic development humans gradually develop a theory of mentalistic 1 There is also some evidence that children can pass implicit false belief tasks at an earlier stage (Onishi & Balliargeon, 2005;Southgate et al., 2007). However, these tasks are currently subject to replication concerns and there is debate as to whether these should be interpreted as providing evidence of mindreading or behaviour reading (e.g. ...
Article
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In recent years, theories of social understanding have moved away from arguing that just one epistemic strategy, such as theory-based inference or simulation constitutes our ability of social understanding. Empirical observations speak against any monistic view and have given rise to pluralistic accounts arguing that humans rely on a large variety of epistemic strategies in social understanding. We agree with this promising pluralist approach, but highlight two open questions: what is the residual role of mindreading, i.e. the indirect attribution of mental states to others within this framework, and how do different strategies of social understanding relate to each other? In a first step, we aim to clarify the arguments that might be considered in evaluating the role that epistemic strategies play in a pluralistic framework. On this basis, we argue that mindreading constitutes a core epiststrategy in human social life that opens new central spheres of social understanding. In a second step, we provide an account of the relation between different epistemic strategies which integrates and demarks the important role of mindreading for social understanding.
... La grande théorie concurrente est la « theory-theory », ou théorie de la théorie. Ce modèle cognitiviste, stipule que le traitement des émotions, même à un niveau précoce, implique déjà un traitement cognitif en mobilisant les connaissances conceptuelles liées aux émotions (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984;Roseman, 1984;Gopnik & Meltzoff, 1997;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Scholl & Leslie, 1999;Scherer, 2001). ...
Thesis
La cognition sociale regroupe plusieurs capacités, comme la reconnaissance des émotions faciales (REF), la Théorie de l’Esprit (TDE) et l’empathie. Celles-ci sont sévèrement altérées dans la variante comportementale de la Dégénérescence Fronto-Temporale (DFT-c) et plus légèrement dans la Maladie d’Alzheimer (MA) et la Maladie de Parkinson (MP), avec pour conséquences des troubles du comportement (TDC), désinhibition et apathie en particulier, qui conduisent à l’épuisement de l’aidant familial. Dans ces trois maladies une diminution des capacités top-down et une modification des capacités bottom-up de guidage de l’attention lors de la recherche d’informations visuelles sont aussi observées. Or, la REF, la TDE et l’empathie s’appuient sur la détection visuelle d’indices sociaux, sur le visage en particulier. Enfin, de nombreux chevauchements existent entre les structures, les faisceaux et les réseaux cérébraux impliqués dans la cognition sociale et dans l’exploration visuelle. A travers trois études expérimentales, cette thèse a pour premier objectif de mettre en évidence que l’atteinte de la cognition sociale dans la DFT-c, la MA et la MP, et les TDC qui en découlent, sont liés à une modification des stratégies d’exploration visuelle. L’objectif secondaire est de montrer qu’une remédiation des stratégies d’observation des visages exprimant une émotion chez les personnes atteintes de maladie neurodégénératives permet une amélioration de la REF, entraine une diminution des TDC et un allègement du fardeau de leurs aidants familiaux. Nos résultats confirment le triple lien entre stratégies de regard, cognition sociale et TDC. Les difficultés de REF sont associées à une perturbation des mécanismes d’orientation de l’attention sur les régions saillantes du visage liées à chaque émotion. Dans la DFT-c l’altération de ces mécanismes est sévère, le pattern d’exploration des visages exprimant une émotion étant similaire à celui d’un visage neutre. Pour la MA et la MP, cela concerne une perte d’attractivité de la région des yeux et une capture attentionnelle accrue de la région de la bouche. La TDE quant à elle est principalement impactée par une altération des stratégies top-down de recherche d’indices visuels permettant de prendre la perspective d’autrui et d’inférer ses états mentaux. Là aussi c’est dans la DFT-c que le pattern d’observation est le plus perturbé, avec une perte de stratégies d’observations et une insensibilité aux informations données qui conduisent à une prise de perspective d’autrui décalée dans le temps. Ces types d’observations de scènes sociales sont corrélés à la production de TDC. Enfin, la remédiation de la REF menée auprès d’un groupe MA montre que l’amélioration des performances est conjointe à une modification des stratégies d’observation des visages, avec une observation plus importante de la région des yeux, et entraîne une diminution des TDC et du fardeau de l’aidant. Nos résultats suggèrent donc une forte participation des mécanismes attentionnels dans le déficit de cognition sociale dans les maladies neurodégénératives. Par conséquent une prise en charge des TDC axée sur une remédiation des stratégies de recherche d’indices visuels sociaux semble être une piste intéressante afin de prévenir l’épuisement de l’aidant familial et de retarder l’institutionnalisation.
... Theory Theory (TT) is an empiricist perspective focused on the development of children's ToM abilities. The particular brand of TT that has been developed most fully with regard to research on maternal discourse is by Wellman and his colleagues (Gopnik, 1996;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Wellman, 1990;. For TT, the child is construed as a "little scientist" and learning is a process of generating hypotheses about the environment that are either confirmed or disconfirmed. ...
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Nativist and empiricist approaches require foundationalism because they cannot account for the emergence of representation. Foundationalism is the assumption of an innate representational base. In turn, foundationalism places limits on the nature of learning as a constructivist process. In contrast, action-based approaches can account for the emergence of representation through (inter)action. In so doing, action-based approaches can pursue an emergent constructivism for learning and development. Despite the theoretical symmetry between nativism and empiricism with respect to foundationalism, there is an asymmetry in nativist and empiricist research programs. Nativism generally ignores constructivist complexity with rich interpretations that non-nativist approaches assume needs to be investigated empirically. Importantly, the problem of a priori assumptions driving rich interpretations is not specific to nativism or looking methodologies. Mindreading as a research program also engages in rich interpretations for studies that concern social-cognition from infancy through preschool. To the extent that empiricist research programs incorporate constructivist thinking into research, they converge with action-based approaches. This creates a sort of methodological bridge between lean-empiricist research programs and action-based approaches. However, this bridge has limitations that we illustrate through an example concerning maternal mental-state discourse and theory of mind development.
... To some extent, the hot and cold processes of the ToM strategies that will be most successful are context dependent. Examples of different strategies for ToM are the theory-theory approach (Gopnik and Wellman, 1992) and the simulation-theory approach (Gordon, 1986). The former can be based on a set of innate rules or on causal and probabilistic reasoning models, whereas the latter is more of a perspective based approach. ...
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Theory of Mind (ToM)—the ability of the human mind to attribute mental states to others—is a key component of human cognition. In order to understand other people's mental states or viewpoint and to have successful interactions with others within social and occupational environments, this form of social cognition is essential. The same capability of inferring human mental states is a prerequisite for artificial intelligence (AI) to be integrated into society, for example in healthcare and the motoring industry. Autonomous cars will need to be able to infer the mental states of human drivers and pedestrians to predict their behavior. In the literature, there has been an increasing understanding of ToM, specifically with increasing cognitive science studies in children and in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Similarly, with neuroimaging studies there is now a better understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie ToM. In addition, new AI algorithms for inferring human mental states have been proposed with more complex applications and better generalisability. In this review, we synthesize the existing understanding of ToM in cognitive and neurosciences and the AI computational models that have been proposed. We focus on preference learning as an area of particular interest and the most recent neurocognitive and computational ToM models. We also discuss the limitations of existing models and hint at potential approaches to allow ToM models to fully express the complexity of the human mind in all its aspects, including values and preferences.
... Traditional positions understand mental-state attribution in terms of "mindreading" (see [25]). In brief, Theory-theory approaches maintain that our capacity for mindreading relies on the possession of a relevant theory of mind, understood as a body of folk-psychological knowledge that allows us to infer that another person is undergoing a certain mental state [31][32][33][34]. In contrast to Theory-theory, Simulation Theory approaches to social cognition hold that mindreading does not rely on a body of theoretical knowledge and law-like generalizations, but rather on the attributor's use of his or her own mind as a model for the attribution of mental states to others [35][36][37]. ...
... N. Sanborn, Mansinghka, & Griffiths, 2013). Lastly, children's failure to ascribe a false-belief to an agent provided cognitive scientists with an experimental handle on the development of a Theory of Mind between the ages of 2.5 and 4 (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992). ...
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... In human agents, beliefs also change, and so do the concepts that underpin them. Whether seen as prototypes (Posner & Keele, 1968), or exemplars (Medin & Schaffer, 1978), or causal theories (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992), the boundaries of concepts are continually reassessed based on novel input. But not all concepts are equal: e.g. ...
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Human beliefs change, but so do the concepts that underpin them. The recent Abduction, Belief Revision and Conceptual Change (ABC) repair system combines several methods from automated theory repair to expand, contract, or reform logical structures representing conceptual knowledge in artificial agents. In this paper we focus on conceptual change: repair not only of the membership of logical concepts, such as what animals can fly, but also concepts themselves, such that birds may be divided into flightless and flying birds, by changing the signature of the logical theory used to represent them. We offer a method for automatically evaluating entrenchment in the signature of a Datalog theory, in order to constrain automated theory repair to succinct and intuitive outcomes. Formally, signature entrenchment measures the inferential contributions of every logical language element used to express conceptual knowledge, i.e., predicates and the arguments, ranking possible repairs to retain valuable logical concepts and reject redundant or implausible alternatives. This quantitative measurement of signature entrenchment offers a guide to the plausibility of conceptual changes, which we aim to contrast with human judgements of concept entrenchment in future work.
... If we are wondering about John's mental states regarding where his keys are, we would default to representing John's mind in terms of where John believes his keys are (for specific proposals on how we might do this, see, e.g., Baker, Jara-Ettinger, Goldman, 2006;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Gordon, 1986;Leslie, Friedman, & German, 2004). Then, to determine whether or not John knows that the keys are in his pocket, we would additionally need to determine whether his belief also meets the additional criteria required for knowledge. ...
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... If we are wondering about John's mental states regarding where his keys are, we would default to representing John's mind in terms of where John believes his keys are (for specific proposals on how we might do this, see, e.g., Baker, Jara-Ettinger, Goldman, 2006;Gopnik & Wellman, 1992;Gordon, 1986;Leslie, Friedman, & German, 2004). Then, to determine whether or not John knows that the keys are in his pocket, we would additionally need to determine whether his belief also meets the additional criteria required for knowledge. ...
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I accept the main thesis of the article according to which representation of knowledge is more basic than representation of belief. But I question the authors’ contention that humans' unique capacity to represent belief does not underwrite the capacity for the accumulation of cultural knowledge.
... There has been an explosion of interest in the "folk" ability to explain one another's actions by appeal to inner mental states. Theory-theorists (Astington & Gopnik 1991;Astington et al. 1988;Gopnik 1993;Gopnik & Wellman 1992;Wellman 1990) hold that adults have a tacit theory that describes generalizations mediating behavior or observable characteristics and mental states. Observed behavior plus background knowledge is the input to this theory, while a mental state attribution is the output. ...
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... Much of the prior research on higher-order epistemic reasoning focuses on developmental aspects-when and how do children acquire the ability to think about what others know (Gopnik & Wellman, 1992)? Through the influential empirical paradigm of the "false-belief task", where children read † Preprint of May 2021. ...
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In 2017, the Protestant Church in Germany presented the robot priest “BlessU2” to the participants of the Deutscher Kirchentag in Wittenberg. This generated a number of important questions on key themes of religion(s) in digital societies: Are robots legitimized and authorized to pronounce blessings on humans—and why? To answer such questions, one must first define the interrelationship of technology, religion and the human being. Paul Tillich (1886–1965) referred to the polarization of autonomy and heteronomy by raising the issue of theonomy: the first step on the way to critical research on representing the divine in robotic technology.
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It is becoming increasingly clear that our folk psychological ontology of the mental is unlikely to map neatly on to the functional organisation of the brain, leading to the development of novel ‘cognitive ontologies’ that aim to better describe this organisation. While the debate over which of these ontologies to adopt is still ongoing, we ought to think carefully about what the consequences for folk psychology might be. One option would be to endorse a new form of eliminative materialism, replacing the old folk psychological ontology with a novel neurocognitive ontology. This approach assumes a literalist attitude towards folk psychology, where the folk psychological and neurocognitive ontologies represent competing and incompatible ways of categorising the mental. According to an alternative approach, folk psychology aims to describe coarse-grained behaviour rather than fine-grained mechanisms, and the two kinds of ontology are better thought of as having different aims and purposes. In this chapter I will argue that the latter (coarse-grained) approach is a better way to make sense of everyday folk psychological practice, and also offers a more constructive way to understand the relationship between folk psychological and neurocognitive ontologies. The folk psychological ontology of the mental might not be appropriate for describing the functional organisation of the brain, but rather than eliminating or revising it, we should instead recognise that it has a very different aim and purpose than neurocognitive ontologies do.
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Human beings are highly familiar over-learnt social targets, with similar physical facial morphology between perceiver and target. But does experience with or similarity to a social target determine whether we can accurately infer emotions from their facial displays? Here, we test this question across two studies by having human participants infer emotions from facial displays of: dogs, a highly experienced social target but with relatively dissimilar facial morphology; panins (chimpanzees/bonobos), inexperienced social targets, but close genetic relatives with a more similar facial morphology; and humans. We find that people are more accurate inferring emotions from facial displays of dogs compared to panins, though they are most accurate for human faces. However, we also find an effect of emotion, such that people vary in their ability to infer different emotional states from different species’ facial displays, with anger more accurately inferred than happiness across species, perhaps hinting at an evolutionary bias towards detecting threat. These results not only compare emotion inferences from human and animal faces but provide initial evidence that experience with a non-human animal affects inferring emotion from facial displays.
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Metacognition and mentalizing are both associated with meta-level mental state representations. Specifically, metacognition refers to monitoring one’s own cognitive processes, while mentalizing refers to monitoring others’ cognitive processes. However, this self-other dichotomy is insufficient to delineate the two high-level mental processes. We here used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to systematically investigate the neural representations of different levels of decision uncertainty in monitoring different targets (the current self, the past self, and others) performing a perceptual decision-making task. Our results reveal diverse formats of intrinsic mental state representations of decision uncertainty in mentalizing, separate from the associations with external information. External information was commonly represented in the right inferior parietal lobe (IPL) across the mentalizing tasks. However, the meta-level mental states of decision uncertainty attributed to others were uniquely represented in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), rather than the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) that also equivalently represented the object-level mental states of decision inaccuracy attributed to others. Further, the object-level and meta-level mental states of decision uncertainty, when attributed to the past self, were represented in the precuneus and the lateral frontopolar cortex (lFPC), respectively. In contrast, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) consistently represented both decision uncertainty in metacognition and estimate uncertainty during monitoring the different mentalizing processes, but not the inferred decision uncertainty in mentalizing. Hence, our findings identify neural signatures to clearly delineate metacognition and mentalizing and further imply distinct neural computations on the mental states of decision uncertainty during metacognition and mentalizing.
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How children's understanding of emerging technologies originates is a critical, fundamental, and challenging research question. Placing this question in the history of human evolution and technology development, the present article uses a newly designed literature review method, focused rapid review, to synthesize three fields of research, developmental psychology, behavioral archaeology, and comparative primatology. The six highly cited empirical studies highlighted in the review demonstrate how infants understand simple artifacts, how ancient humans made, used, and understood stone technologies, and how non‐human primates make, use, and understand simple tools. The article concludes with a discussion of four implications for examining the origins of children's understanding of emerging technologies in a broader intellectual context.
Thesis
La littérature des théories des organisations étudie principalement les secrets pour les conséquences stratégiques des informations qu’ils renferment (paradigme informationnel) ou pour les dynamiques sociales qu’ils engendrent (approche sociologique). Pourtant, certains travaux pointent vers une autre propriété organisationnelle du secret : sa capacité à influer sur le rapport au savoir et au non-savoir, et en conséquence à modifier en profondeur la manière de penser des individus. L’approche épistémique du secret qu’ils suggèrent révèle alors la tendance des pratiques du secret à produire un cadrage épistémique. Cette thèse, composée de trois articles, propose d’en comprendre les mécanismes sociocognitifs sous-jacents, en s’appuyant sur un matériel original : des observations et des interviews au sein de services de renseignement, de loges franc-maçonnes, de groupuscules activistes et des alcooliques anonymes ; et une enquête antiterroriste. Nous montrons alors comment les pratiques du secret peuvent constituer un dispositif clé du management épistémique organisationnel. Le premier article caractérise la propension de certaines pratiques du secret à susciter certaines attitudes épistémiques envers l’ignorance. Le second article souligne la dualité des cadres cognitifs associés au secret, à la fois cadres de référence et cadres métacognitifs, et le risque d’interpretative locking lorsque ceux-ci deviennent trop congruents. Enfin, le troisième article montre comment l’exposition récurrente aux secrets internes à l’organisation tend, en discréditant la cognition individuelle et mettant en scène une logique supérieure, à assimiler les individus au processus organisationnel.
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Empathy is a central concept in design thinking. According to human-centred design, developers of novel products shall strive for a good understanding of product users, in order to design for their needs. This requires sophisticated cognitive capacities on behalf of the designers: being able to distinguish between their own knowledge states and needs versus that of the users. An IT expert who develops a banking app for elderly people must be able to imagine what it is like for an extreme user—such as an elderly person, who can barely use a mobile phone—to learn about online banking. What goes on in the design thinker’s mind when he or she tries to understand a user? What sub-capacities are involved, where the design thinker may be more or less capable? What routes to “understanding others” are promoted and taught by means of design thinking empathy methods? Neuroscience has produced a cornucopia of research studies on the biological underpinnings of understanding others. In this chapter, we review insights from neuroscience on how humans understand fellow people. This includes an overview of conceptual distinctions and sub-capacities, such as empathy versus compassion, or affective versus cognitive routes of social understanding. We also review measurement approaches that can be used in design thinking research and human-centred design practice to assess people’s abilities of understanding others. Moreover, the chapter discusses biases and pitfalls in understanding others, such as a natural tendency of the human brain to react less (to “empathise less”) with persons who seem to be particularly different from us.
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El objetivo general de esta tesis doctoral es contribuir al conocimiento de los recursos cognitivo-comunicativos implicados en la producción de humor gráfico por parte de adolescentes. Entendemos la creación de humor gráfico como una actividad situada en la que se configura un espacio de problema con particulares demandas cognitivo-comunicativas, que cada involucrado aborda poniendo en juego sus recursos, e imprimiendo su sello en función de sus intereses, inquietudes y trayectorias de aprendizajes. El vasto volumen de estudios en psicología en las últimas décadas se ha centrado en la interpretación del humor y su producción verbal. Asimismo, ha sido el despliegue del humor durante la niñez lo que ha suscitado mayor interés, siendo escasos aquellos estudios enfocados en la adolescencia. Esta tesis tiene un diseño exploratorio-descriptivo y se conforma de dos estudios, a partir del diseño y realización de diez talleres de interpretación y producción de humor gráfico de único encuentro en las ciudades de San Carlos de Bariloche, Dina Huapi y Gral. Roca, y un taller trimestral en San Carlos de Bariloche, en los cuales participaron 149 adolescentes de 10 a 19 años. En ambas modalidades de taller se recabaron textos humorísticos y se entrevistó a los participantes. El enfoque interdisciplinario nutrió los análisis con los aportes de la psicología cognitiva, semiótica, ciencias de la comunicación y de la educación. En el Estudio I buscamos relevar las posibilidades y estrategias implementadas por los adolescentes en la creación humorística gráfica, así como diferentes aspectos semióticos y comunicacionales que caracterizan esta actividad, y que distinguimos en cinco niveles interrelacionados: Lógico, Modal, Retórico, Pragmático y Temático. Analizamos las producciones gráficas desde un enfoque multinivel e interdimensional, poniendo en valor los repertorios como instrumentos para visibilizar y comprender la diversidad de formas con que las personas dan sentido a las situaciones, elaboran estrategias de resolución, imaginan alternativas y comunican sus perspectivas. Los resultados del Estudio I permitieron identificar diferentes maneras en que los adolescentes crearon sentidos en formato gráfico, conjugando las formas discursivas del género con su orientación motivacional, lo cual nos condujo a establecer seis Perfiles textuales. A partir de ellos, reconocimos diversos grados de complejidad en los textos creados, dados por los recursos empleados y por su densidad semiótica. Identificamos una preferencia por la creación de textos humorísticos con motivación lúdica en los adolescentes de menor edad, y una preferencia por parte de los adolescentes de entre 13 y 19 años por la creación de humor gráfico con una motivación comprometida, frecuentemente combinada con la motivación lúdica. Registramos que los textos creados con motivación lúdica trataban principalmente contenidos fantásticos, a escala interpersonal y con una sub-representación de contenidos sociales/normativos. Si bien los estudios sobre desarrollo cognitivo nos llevaron a hipotetizar acerca de un mayor interés por temas abstractos y socio-políticos en adolescentes de 16 a 19 años, encontramos en los textos creados por ellos una diversidad tanto motivacional como temática. La elección del formato también presentó variaciones de acuerdo al Perfil textual, siendo aquellos textos cognitivamente más demandantes los abordados a partir de viñetas únicas, que conforman un texto condensado y autocontenido, mientras que los textos con incongruencia de tipo mecánica se realizaron preferentemente en tiras. Reconocimos también una cierta familiaridad de los adolescentes participantes con los recursos narrativos gráficos, tales como globos, cartuchos, líneas de movimiento, etc., que en ocasiones utilizaron con alto grado de sofisticación. Las producciones gráficas priorizaron una convergencia modal, según la cual cada modo semiótico (verbal o visual) aporta diferenciadamente a ciertos fines comunicativos. Lejos de ser solo un entretenimiento, la creación humorística gráfica se presentó como una oportunidad para resignificar experiencias personales y problematizar la realidad social. En el Estudio II, exploramos el aprendizaje del humor gráfico en la adolescencia. Para ello, identificamos y analizamos los cambios que se generaron tanto en las concepciones acerca de este género, como en las estrategias adoptadas para la creación textual, en un grupo de nueve adolescentes que participaron en el taller trimestral de interpretación y producción de humor gráfico. Buscamos integrar la perspectiva de los aprendices en el estudio de sus procesos de apropiación de conocimientos, atendiendo a las formas de explicitación y re-descripción representacional en clave multimodal. Analizamos, por un lado, la información relevada en las entrevistas realizadas a todos los participantes al culminar el taller y por otro lado, para algunos participantes, integramos la información aportada por el análisis de las producciones gráficas realizadas al iniciar y finalizar el taller. Este segundo acercamiento, motivado por comprender la variedad y el dinamismo de los recursos puestos en juego, se propuso como una exploración multimodal de las trayectorias de aprendizaje. Este Estudio II permitió reflexionar sobre las condiciones de producción, en tanto el taller trimestral fue diseñado para que los participantes puedan configurar libremente sus espacios de problema, habilitando un despliegue y refinamiento de sus recursos cognitivo-comunicativos implicados en la creación gráfica multimodal. Dicha experiencia educativa estuvo orientada a promover un aprendizaje agentivo de tipo constructivo o reflexivo, en el que acompañamos la creación gráfica tanto con tematizaciones y reflexiones acerca del género en sus múltiples aristas, así como de explicitaciones sobre la propia toma de decisiones. Los resultados aportaron evidencias en favor de una extensión de la zona de desarrollo próximo de los aprendices, quienes lograron implicarse con soltura en esta actividad abierta y cognitiva y comunicativamente demandante. Los participantes del taller trimestral comprendieron aspectos clave del género, que lo diferencian de otras manifestaciones humorísticas así como de otras producciones gráficas, identificaron las motivaciones que pueden tener los autores para crear humor, y se percataron de algunas restricciones y exigencias de cada formato. Los matices captados en las trayectorias de aprendizaje de los participantes pusieron en evidencia discontinuidades y brechas en el aprendizaje, así como también el vínculo estrecho entre los desafíos personales, situados -en los cuales interviene toda la trayectoria de aprendizajes previos- y las estrategias de producción textual. El enfoque socio-constructivista de recursos adoptado en esta investigación nos permitió entender la creación de humor gráfico como una actividad con potencial, atractiva y altamente agentiva, en tanto posibilita a los participantes experimentar la tensión entre indicadores de apropiación de convenciones y de producción innovadora así como tomar perspectiva respecto de una temática que los convoca y que pueden expresar libre y multimodalmente, comprometiendo procesos motivacionales, imaginativos y expresivos. Planteamos como un aporte de esta investigación el hecho de brindar evidencia empírica de primera mano en favor de la consideración de este género discursivo como un objeto de enseñanza y aprendizaje. Acorde con las nuevas demandas de la alfabetización multimodal, concluimos que la creación de humor gráfico permite visibilizar, explorar, tematizar y reflexionar sobre las potencialidades y limitaciones funcionales de cada modo semiótico, y las particularidades con que juegan su rol en la creación o diseño de sentidos, convocando a su vez a su uso reflexivo y estratégico como herramientas comunicativas y cognitivas.
Chapter
The cooperation among AI systems, and between AI systems and humans is becoming increasingly important. In various real-world tasks, an agent needs to cooperate with unknown partner agent types. This requires the agent to assess the behaviour of the partner agent during a cooperative task and to adjust its own policy to support the cooperation. Deep reinforcement learning models can be trained to deliver the required functionality but are known to suffer from sample inefficiency and slow learning. However, adapting to a partner agent behaviour during the ongoing task requires ability to assess the partner agent type quickly. We suggest a method, where we synthetically produce populations of agents with different behavioural patterns together with ground truth data of their behaviour, and use this data for training a meta-learner. We additionally suggest an agent architecture, which can efficiently use the generated data and gain the meta-learning capability. When an agent is equipped with such a meta-learner, it is capable of quickly adapting to cooperation with unknown partner agent types in new situations. This method can be used to automatically form a task distribution for meta-training from emerging behaviours that arise, for example, through self-play.
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Babies grow up in rich social environments in which one of their most important goal is learn to interact effectively with other people and lean on them to learn about the world. In order to relate effectively, the child must understand that other people have beliefs, desires and intentions, and these mental states serve to explain part of the behavior of others. This ability to understand and attribute mental states to others and to oneself is known as Theory of Mind (TdM) There are some consensuses within the scientific literature regarding the development of the TdM, for example, that three years old children know that different people can want and feel different things, and then, when they are four or five years old, understand that their beliefs may differ from those of the people (Wellman, 2015). It should be noted that the most of developmental psychologists have given prominence to the study of beliefs over the desires, almost always framed by structuralist models of development that relate or even justify the appearance of some capacity with the child's age (Kloo, Perner & Gritzer; 2010; Harrigan, Hacquard & Lidz, 2018; Woodward, 2003). As mental states, desires fulfill a crucial role in social interaction. First, because many of the behaviors of human beings are motivated by desires, and so that to understand them implies in turn to understand part of the mind of the people; and second, because they are the first way babies have to explain the behavior of other people. In this research study, changes in the understanding of the desires of preschool children between two and three years old were analyzed. Literature has taken for granted that children of these ages understand the desires, using methodologies that involve a single measurement to reach their conclusions, and protected by a structuralist position of development, where basically there is a description of milestones determined by age. In contrast to this tradition, this study is based on the theory of Nonlinear Dynamic Systems to address the understanding of desires with an emphasis on variability and change. Specifically, children ability to use simple desires to predict the emotions and behavior of others was evaluated, as well as assessing their ability to infer others desires based on preferences. To do that, a microgenetic design was used, which involved several measurements of the variables in a short period of time, which allowed us to analyze the changes in the understanding of the desires at the time it occurred. For this, the minimum and maximum technique was used, a Nonlinear Dynamic Systems analysis technique that allows to calcule a change f trajectory or each child in relation to each variable: After analyzing and classifying the trajectories of the participants in each of the three variables (use of desires for predict emotions and behaviors, and inference of desires) it was found that, unlike what most of the scientific literature suggests , children do not show high performance in these tasks throughout the evaluations. On the contrary, variability and irregularity were constant in many of the cases, which suggests that the understanding of desires does not necessarily follow a series of structured steps according to age. The results record several types of trajectories, marked by the variability and stability with performances of all types: low, medium, high and in few ideal cases. The investigation allowed to realize that with respect to the understanding of desires, children of similar ages show different trajectories of change, which supports the idea that development is not linear, and that it is necessary to approach the phenomenon from other methodological perspectives. In addition, the position of the majority of authors is discussed, with respect to the supposed ease of children of these ages to understand the desires. Key words: Desires, Theory of Mind, Development, Variability, Dynamic Systems, Preschool children.
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