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Cognitive Architecture of Belief Reasoning in Children and Adults: A Two-Systems Account Primer (forthcoming)

by Jason Low, Ian Apperly, Stephen Butterfill and Hannes Rakoczy

---Child Development Perspectives
--- links: [pdf]


Characterizing the cognitive architecture of human mindreading forces us to address two puzzles in people’s attributions of belief: why children show inconsistent expectations about others’ belief-based actions, and why adults’ belief reasoning is sometimes automatic and sometimes not. The seemingly puzzling data suggest humans have multiple mindreading systems that use different models of the mental. The efficient system is shared by infants, children and adults, and uses a minimal model of mind, which enables belief-like states to be tracked. The flexible system is late-developing and uses a canonical model, which incorporates propositional attitudes. A given model’s operation has signature limits that produce performance contrasts, in children as well as adults, between certain types of mindreading tasks