What Do Psychologists Mean by ‘Theory of Mind’? Discuss the Claim That Theory of Mind Is an Evolved Adaptation.

What do psychologists mean by ‘theory of mind’? Discuss the claim that theory of mind is an evolved adaptation.

The theory of mind (often abbreviated TOM) has been the subject of many studies from very early on. However, as with the nature-nurture dilemma, answers about the theory of mind and its mechanisms and developmental processes, cannot be answered purely on biological or psychological grounds but probably require a combination of both.
For psychologists it has been of particular importance to examine when and how theory of mind was evolved and/or developed rather what are the percentages of biology and psychology contribution to the theory of mind. Also, in order to find deeper answers about when and how theory of mind was acquired and its purpose in humans, psychologists needed to establish whether theory of mind is a human unique ability or whether animals (and other living creatures) possess theory of mind too.

Theory of mind refers to the cognitive ability of human beings (although it is suggested that some animals – apes, do also possibly possess theory of mind at a much lower level) to attribute mental and emotional states to other persons (without the “other” person having to verbally reveal them) and at the same time use these states in order to explain and ultimately predict the actions/behaviour of the other persons. In a nutshell one could say that theory of mind is the skill of mindreading and the ability to manipulate social relationships negatively or positively (cited in Clegg, 2007, p. 139).
Theory of mind, according to research seems to have evolved after the split of humankind from chimpanzees (around 5 to 7 million years ago) (Clegg, 2007, p.134). The theory of mind seems to be universal, (even though the levels exhibited vary among different cultures).This, suggests that theory of mind might be an inherited characteristic. It has also been suggested that children with normal developmental trajectory show signs of theory of mind...