McHugh, Louise and Barnes-Holmes, Yvonne and Barnes-Holmes, Dermot
Understanding Perspective-taking, False Belief, and Deception from a Behavioural Perspective.
The Irish Psychologist, 30.
Perspective-taking, understanding false belief and deception are considered by mainstream psychologists to be critical for competent cognitive development. Theory of Mind researchers, in particular, have devoted considerable attention to these cognitive domains. By contrast, these phenomena have traditionally attracted little or no interest from behavioural psychologists. This situation, however, has begun to change in recent years with behavioural researchers working under the rubric of Relational Frame Theory devoting considerable effort to empirical analyses of these cognitive abilities. The current paper reviews some of the first empirical evidence generated by the relational frame approach to perspective-taking, false belief and deception as related relational skills. The results of this work show considerable overlap with more traditional Theory of Mind findings, and thus suggest that these topics may be an important area of integration between these two disparate traditions. Additional evidence from studies in which specific relational repertoires were targeted for remediation when perspective-taking, false belief and deception were found to be absent also suggest the applicability of the relational frame interpretation of these abilities. Although much more work needs to be done, current empirical evidence suggests that from both conceptual and applied perspectives, the relational frame approach to these phenomena may be an important and fruitful avenue for future research.
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