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Some problems with a behavioristic account of early group pretense

Erlbaum Associates
Publication Date
  • 170102 Developmental Psychology And Ageing
  • 220312 Philosophy Of Cognition
  • Pretense
  • Theory Of Mind
  • Psychology


In normal child development, both individual and group pretense first emerges at approximately two years of age. The metarepresentational account of pretense holds that children already have the concept PRETEND when they first engage in early group pretense. A behavioristic account suggests that early group pretense is analogous to early beliefs or desires and thus require no mental state concepts. I argue that a behavioral account does not explain the actual behavior observed in children and it cannot explain how children come to understand that a specific action is one of pretense versus one of belief. I conclude that a mentalistic explanation of pretense best explains the behavior under consideration.

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