Three-year-olds' theories of mind in actions and words

Marjorie Rhodes, Amanda C. Brandone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding observable behavior by considering mental representations is central to social cognition. Research reveals quite different developmental trajectories for this ability depending on whether tasks assess implicit or explicit theory of mind (ToM). Yet, how to define implicit vs. explicit ToM, the tasks that elicit each, and the types of behavior that each can support, have remained unclear. The present study (n = 47) found that 3-year-olds incorporate predictions based on false beliefs into their intentional actions, but not - following identical scenarios - into their verbal responses. These data show that implicit ToM supports a broader range of behaviors than previously indicated and further illustrates the entrenched nature of the distinction between implicit and explicit knowledge in early conceptual development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 263
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberMAR
StatePublished - 2014


  • Cognitive development
  • Conceptual development
  • Implicit knowledge
  • Social cognition
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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