Developmental psychology studies involve the realization of an individual’s self- existence and the understanding of the dynamic changes which occur continually over the life of the individual from inception at birth until death.
The scene is set in a beautiful nursery classroom with colorful pictures in the background which depict an environment of learning for the children. The children are gathered around a square raised water pool reservoir in the room which provides them with an opportunity to play with the water and thus socialize easily in their different activities at the water pool.
The physical activity, social interaction and focus enabled by gathering at the pool enables the ease of observing behavior occurrence and repetition relevant to the theory of the mind under study by the researcher and observer.
Physical activity and social interaction amongst the children from the onset of the video plays a crucial role in showing how the interaction of the self and objects in the physical world and the likely reactions of others emanate from a motion, cause and effect sequence. This lays the foundation for the theory of the mind as the children have to have an idea of how others minds work.
The concept of the theory of mind is well extrapolated in the video with the illustration of two distinct activities of increasing complexity. The first activity with the psychologist demonstrating the unawareness of self in decisions made by a young child and the second activity depicting two different outcomes from decisions made by one younger and one older child when subjected to two control questions to gauge their belief of misrepresentation by another individual as an independent party.
In the first experiment the young child projects her changed belief about a task as her new reality will influence the answer of another child, Jane if asked what is in the box to be pencils. The child in the experiment had initially thought the box to have smarties while it actually had pencils and now projects her new reality to be what her counterpart, Jane will believe to be in the box. This depicts a clear illustration of the child’s unawareness of Jane as an independent mind.
In the second experiment sally places a marble in one bag “A” and leaves. Anne comes along and changes the location of the marble from the bag to another bag “B”. Sally now comes and the child is asked where Sally will look for the marble. The first younger child reaches out and gets the marble for Sally from location bag “B” in a display of pity for Sally who knows little about where the marble is. The second older child is able to distinguish between the two control questions, the memory question where the marble was in the beginning “bag A” and the reality question, where is the marble now which is “bag B”.
Happ’e (2003) defines the theory of the mind as the everyday ability to attribute independent mental states to self and others in order to predict and explain behavior.
Westra & Carruthers (2017) collaborate that human uniqueness is necessitated by human social cognition, the capacity to attribute mental states to other people and thus anticipate their likely action.
Hannes Rakoczy (2017) shows clearly shows that theory mind exists by drawing a clear distinction between the children’s ascription and representational states such as beliefs and desires before and after four year of age.
Wertz & German (2013) tackle the everyday challenges in developing the theory of the mind in three experiments with preschool children and adults. They range from dealing with adults and children having competing mental state to identifying the observable action cues used to generate mental state representations in situations encountered every day.
de Villiers (2007) explores the interface of language, intention, intension, desire, seeing and perspective, belief and the theory of the mind in general. According to de Villiers (2007) the child develops language interface to the theory of the mind at age four.
McGrath (2009) proves through research there is no variations in the development of the theory of mind across cultures using the three culture groups English, Afrikaans and Sotho/Tswana cultures. It was proved that culture does not impact on performance of the three tasks used, strange stories, reading the mind in the eyes and fax paus and so theory of mind is uniform across cultures.
The double basis of understanding representational states is argued in the research paper by Hannes as first understanding that a certain state might misrepresent a situation and second appreciating that the very same situation might be seen and represented differently by the same person or differently by two people at the same or different times.
Hannes further argue in the research paper that tasks which test the child’s understanding of diverging views and misrepresentation, such as tasks requiring the child to ascribe to a protagonist which diverges from their own reality or belief as a basis of predicting rational behavior from the point of view of the protagonist are considered over test of time as the reference tests for the theory of mind.
Methods of inquisition into development psychology hypothesis testing are varied.
Ram & Gerstorf (2009) defend how multilevel models, with didactic precision are an essential link between theories and models to guide in effective implementation of innovations in analyzing repeated daily data measures in developmental psychology and in interfacing recent models for longitudinal data and developmental studies.
Ram & Gerstorf (2009) also consider second-order growth mixture model for describing unobserved heterogeneity in change or development of groups or individuals who follow different change paths as the benefits of multivariate analysis in combining variation, factor analysis, latent growth and mixture models.
The methods which can be used to study children include cross sectional studies where comparisons of behavior and abilities of two or more different groups of children are done with different age groups to reduce costs and time of the study. In longitudinal studies the behavior of a group of children is recorded over time. Case studies provide a detailed overview of development as one or very few children are investigated regularly over a period of time.
In correlational research different variables are subjected to tests to find out how they relate with each other and experimentation research entails manipulation of variables to understand cause and effect in the subjects sampled (Cherry, 2017).
Sutton (2016) describes the conceptualization of self-awareness to be associated with positive psychological well-being, insight, reflection, rumination and mindfulness. In her article she mentions the self-reflection and insight scale (SRIS) as a measure of private self- consciousness to measure the measure insight or internal state awareness separately from reflection.
Mahy, Moses & Pfeifer (2014) seeks and finds evidence using simulation accounts which show that neural systems in mental and imaginative processes are involved in children’s theory of mind reasoning and in mapping of the self to others. These two neural systems are the cortical midline structures suggested to be involved in intentional, controlled, evaluative thoughts about self and others and the putative mirror neuron system which co-activates to the actions, intentions and emotions of both self and others in children and adults as processes used in the simulation process.
Morin (2011) discusses the remedial solutions which are availed to disorders of the self and the brain with arguments that injury to the right hemisphere of the brain consistently lead to disturbances of the self.
Williams (2010) explores the deficit of individuals with autism spectrum disorder as being impaired to the extent of not recognizing their own mental states as to recognizing the mental states of others argues that it stands in contrast to an awareness of the “physical self” amongst people with autism.
There being no adequate theory of consciousness, Searle (2013) examines the theory of the mind in which both dualism and materialism are mistaken in their false claims as they deny consciousness in part of the physical world. A proponent of Darwinian revolution, Searle advocates for consciousness in its constituents of feeling, sentience or awareness with all conscious states being caused by lower level neurological processes in the brain.
Self-awareness and theory of the mind are equally important in developmental psychology studies. Evidence also shows their importance in both studying the operations of the mind processes and in different phenomena which occur to humans like autism.