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Sketch

Abstract

Theory of mind (ToM) refers to the ability of an individual to make inferences about what others may be thinking or feeling and to predict what they may do in a given situation based on those inferences. Discussions of ToM focus almost exclusively on inferred cognitive structures and processes and shed little light on the actual behaviors involved. In this article, I (a) selectively overview the literature on ToM, (b) suggest that the behavioral relations referred to by ToM scholars can be described and explained parsimoniously within the theoretical framework of behavior analysis, (c) argue that the verbal behaviors that define most ToM tasks are acquired as a function of the language environment of the young child, and (d) point out that B. F. Skinner (1945) proposed what amounts to a ToM more than 60 years ago.

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