Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Why Language Matters for Theory of Mind$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Janet Wilde Astington and Jodie A. Baird

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195159912

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195159912.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 24 September 2018

Language and the Development of Cognitive Flexibility: Implications for Theory of Mind

Language and the Development of Cognitive Flexibility: Implications for Theory of Mind

Chapter:
(p.144) 8 Language and the Development of Cognitive Flexibility: Implications for Theory of Mind
Source:
Why Language Matters for Theory of Mind
Author(s):

Sophie Jacques

Philip David Zelazo

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195159912.003.0008

This chapter examines the labeling function of language, in this case as an aid to cognitive flexibility. It reinterprets the relation between language and theory of mind in terms of language-related effects on cognitive flexibility. Central to its argument is the claim that most of the variance on theory-of-mind tasks can be attributed to the development of flexible perspective taking. It recasts the theory of mind as cognitive flexibility, arguing that, although it undoubtedly involves the acquisition of mental concepts, the use of these concepts necessarily involves cognitive flexibility—the ability to consider multiple representations of a single object or event. The chapter then reviews a number of studies demonstrating that labeling relevant stimuli promotes children's cognitive flexibility, and offers a number of suggestions for how labeling might similarly help theory-of-mind performance. On the other hand, this chapter argues that the arbitrary nature of labels is itself facilitative: because labels typically do not resemble their referents, they help create psychological distance between the symbol user and the external stimuli to which the symbols refer.

Keywords:   labeling, language, children, theory of mind, cognitive flexibility, mental concepts, external stimuli, psychological distance

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .