Theory of Mind in Infancy


  • The author would like to thank Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Josef Perner for their comments on an earlier draft of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Beate Sodian, Department of Psychology, LMU München, Leopoldstr. 13, 80802 München, Germany; e-mail:


Abstract— This article reviews recent evidence for the claim that infants possess a theory of mind. Two conceptual systems (CS) of psychological reasoning are distinguished: CS1, underlying the attribution of motivational states such as goals and dispositions, and CS2, supporting a representational theory of mind, that is, an understanding of false belief. There is ample evidence for CS1 even in the 1st year of life, whereas the claim that CS2 is operational in infancy is controversial. The article proposes a lean interpretation of findings on infants’ representation of false belief that assumes that a fast and automatic, but limited and inflexible, social information processing system guides infants’ encoding of belief-based intentional action.