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Theory of Mind Essay

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Describe what evolutionary psychologists mean when they employ the term ‘theory of mind’. Use examples and research studies from Book 1, Chapter 2 to show why this theory is important in evolutionary psychology.

Evolutionary psychology is a specialist field within the spectrum of psychological enquiry, which seeks to examine and understand some of the predominant reasoning behind the concept of why the human species, whilst biologically similar to other species on the planet, is so very distinct in terms of intelligence and mental progression; demonstrated by the multifaceted and complex social structures we have created. Primary to this domain of evolutionary psychological interest is the notion of ‘theory of mind’, which was developed
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An example would be the assumption that because someone is sleeping, they are tired. Counter- deception involves an individual separating the overt actions of another from what their actual motivation for behaving in that particular way is. This could be seen in the form of ‘reverse psychology’. Recognition of intervening variables understands how certain events and situations can cause particular reactions and responses from others. An example of this would be a fight situation, where the attacked party could well feel afraid, and as a result run away. The final variation of mind- reading is that of experience projection; which allows individuals to apply their personal experiences onto other people. For example, someone who broke their leg and experienced the pain, would be able to empathise with another individual who they saw break their leg.
In 1988, Premack carried out a research study which would appear to support the notion of the ‘theory of mind’. In his study, which was centred on an adult chimpanzee called Sarah; he exposed her to videotapes of an actor with a problem, namely an inability to reach some bananas that were placed out of reach overhead. He then proceeded to show Sarah a number of photographed solutions to the problem, only one of which actually evidenced a successful solution to the problem, (in this situation, it was stepping on a
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