LOT Occasional Series
There is a considerable body of theoretical and experimental work on how children develop a Theory of Mind. A recent meta-analysis by Wellman, Cross and Watson (2001) has revealed a consensus that children develop an awareness that other people might have false beliefs around the age of four years, give or take six months. Wellman and some other theorists believe that children undergo a conceptual change at this point, from a psychological theory based primarily on desire as the motivator of human action, to one that accords beliefs a causal role. Other theorists such as Leslie (1991; 1994) contend that the child has the concept of belief innately, but that certain triggering environments, and the maturation of supporting processing skills, are needed before the child exhibits the concept
de Villiers, Jill, "Getting Complements on your Mental State (Verbs)" (2004). Philosophy: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.