The mentalistic basis of core social cognition: experiments in preverbal infants and a computational model


Address for correspondence: J. Kiley Hamlin, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T1Z4, Canada; e-mail:


Evaluating individuals based on their pro- and anti-social behaviors is fundamental to successful human interaction. Recent research suggests that even preverbal infants engage in social evaluation; however, it remains an open question whether infants’ judgments are driven uniquely by an analysis of the mental states that motivate others’ helpful and unhelpful actions, or whether non-mentalistic inferences are at play. Here we present evidence from 10-month-olds, motivated and supported by a Bayesian computational model, for mentalistic social evaluation in the first year of life.A video abstract of this article can be viewed at