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Cognition and Development – Theory of Mind

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Professor Peter Mitchell (University of Nottingham) discusses how we acquire a theory of mind, i.e. the ability to make inferences about the mental states of others. In the first lecture, we explore what we mean by the term ‘theory of mind’ and how it can be measured using a test of false belief. In the second lecture, we discuss two rival theories of how we come to understand the thoughts and feelings of others. In the third lecture, we think about whether a theory of mind is innate or developed over time. Next, we think about how autism can influence our ability to understand the internal states of others. In the fifth lecture, we think about how our ability to understand the internal states of others may be influenced by factors in our social environment. In the sixth and final lecture, explore how the development of a theory of mind varies across different cultures.

About the Lecturer

Peter Mitchell is Professor and Director of Studies in Psychology at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Previously, he was head of the School of Psychology on the University of Nottingham’s UK campus. He has published six books and is editor of the British Journal of Psychology. Professor Mitchell has served as Chair of the Developmental Section of the British Psychological Society and as Chief Examiner for the Economic and Social Research Council UK PhD studentship competition. Some of Professor Mitchell’s recent publications include ‘Autism and the double empathy problem: Implications for development and mental health’ (2020) and ‘Do neurotypical people like or dislike autistic people?’ (2021).