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Children talk about the mind / Karen Bartsch and Henry M.Wellman

Bartsch, Karen.
Contributor(s): Wellman, Henry M.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBook; Format: print Publisher: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1995Description: 234p.ISBN: 019508005x.Subject(s): Developmental psychology | Psicología evolutiva
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

What, exactly, do children understand about the mind? And when does that understanding first emerge? In this groundbreaking book, Karen Bartsch and Henry Wellman answer these questions and much more by taking a probing look at what children themselves have to tell us about their evolvingconceptions of people and their mental lives. By examining more than 200,000 everyday conversations (sampled from ten children between the ages of two and five years), the authors advance a comprehensive "naive theory of mind" that incorporates both early desire and belief-desire theories to tracechildhood development through its several stages. Throughout, the book offers a splendidly written account of extensive original findings and critical new insights that will be eagerly read by students and researchers in developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, philosophy, andpsycholinguistics.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • 1 Children, Mind, and Language: An Introduction
  • 2 Language and Mind: Methods
  • 3 Talk About Thoughts and Beliefs
  • 4 Talk About Desires
  • 5 Desires and Beliefs
  • 6 Explanations and Arguments
  • 7 Individual Differences
  • 8 Children's Developing Theory of Mind
  • 9 Alternatives and Controversies
  • 10 Ordinary Talk about Persons and Minds: Questions and Conclusions
  • References
  • Index

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Bartsch and Wellman ask when and how children come to understand people as "mentalistic," i.e., people who think, know, want, wish, fear, hope, intend. They analyzed informal conversations of children aged one and one-half to six years using a database of child language units contributed by different researchers. Chosen from this collection were 200,000 examples (natural speech, not interviews) from 10 English-speaking children; 67 percent of the utterances come from four children. The researchers propose that children develop a "theory of mind" allowing them to understand people and frame their ordinary social world. This is an evolving three-phase theory in which children progress from using desires (wants, likes) to explain actions of others (even before three years), to using thoughts and beliefs as a critical explanation (after four years). In the chapter discussing fundamental issues (e.g., language and mind, mind and culture, philosophy of mind), the authors show how their stance supports and disputes other positions. Of a broader theoretical view of children's developing minds is Robbie Case's The Mind's Staircase: Exploring the Conceptual Underpinnings of Children's Thought and Knowledge (CH, Jul'92). Of interest to developmentalists, linguists, philosophers. Upper-division undergraduate through professional. E. Pearson; Marywood College

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Karen Bartsch is at University of Wyoming. Henry M. Wellman is at University of Michigan.

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