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The New Unconscious$
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Ran R. Hassin, James S. Uleman, and John A. Bargh

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195307696

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307696.001.0001

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The Development of the Intention Concept: From the Observable World to the Unobservable Mind

The Development of the Intention Concept: From the Observable World to the Unobservable Mind

Chapter:
(p.256) 10 The Development of the Intention Concept: From the Observable World to the Unobservable Mind
Source:
The New Unconscious
Author(s):

Jodie A. Baird

Janet Wilde Astington

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307696.003.0011

Intentions are everywhere: in action (a lover's embrace), in conversation (an unseemly comment), even on paper (the dimpled chad of a presidential election ballot). But what does it mean to say that someone has an intention? And on what basis are attributions of intention made? Drawing on literature from philosophy and psychology, this chapter defines intention, highlighting the complexities of this concept and pointing to features that distinguish intention from related concepts such as desire and action. It then reviews the literature on the development of the intention concept in infancy and early childhood. Its treatment of the literature reveals that a complete appreciation of intention is acquired only gradually and is characterized by a shift from inferences based on the observable to those based on the unobservable. Language development plays an important role in this shift in children's understanding.

Keywords:   intention, philosophy, psychology, desire, action, observable, unobservable, children, language development

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