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Theory of Mind: Are We Alone? Discussion

Some would argue that the most important recent development in early childhood social cognition is the concept of theory of mind. In brief, theory of mind refers to our understanding of our own mental states - beliefs, intents, desires, perspectives - and the mental states of others that may be different from our own. Based on numerous experiments, human children appear to develop theory of mind by about age 4. Interestingly, 80% of children diagnosed with autism were unable to demonstrate theory of mind at age 4.

What about non-human organisms? Do dogs have a theory of mind? Do gorillas? What about dolphins?

By completing this discussion, you will demonstrate that you are able to:

  • Identify cognitive processes,
  • Organize and accurately present material, and
  • Apply APA formatting within the text and for end-of-text references, when appropriate.

Instructions:

  1. Read Lowry's article, "Tuning In" to Others: How Young Children Develop Theory of Mind
  2. Locate an article or website that discusses whether non-human animals have a theory of mind. Provide the reference and link, if available, to your article/website.
  3. Answer the following questions in your initial post:
    • Briefly summarize your article/website.
    • Is there any evidence, based on your article/website, that non-human animals have a theory of mind?
    • What types of evidence might convince you that non-human animals have a theory of mind?
    ASSIGNMENT 2:

    Problem Solving in Everyday Life Assignment

    In this unit, we've focused on problem solving and decision making. As you've learned, we frequently use a variety of problem solving techniques to reach solutions to everyday problems.
    By completing this assignment, you will be able to demonstrate that you are able to:
    • Describe how the different problem solving techniques (e.g., trial and error, heuristics, algorithms) are used,
    • Describe factors that can affect decision making (e.g., framing, regulatory focus, temporal discounting), and
    • Organize and accurately present material
    Instructions:
    1. Imagine that you have moved to a new town, and need to buy a few items at your local grocery store. You have never been to this particular grocery store before. You need cereal, milk, and apples. How would you reach your goal (of buying cereal, milk, and apples) using each of these problem solving techniques? Re-create the table below in your own document.
    Technique What would you do?
    Trial and Error
    Subgoaling
    Algorithm
    Heuristic
    2. What might impact this decision-making process? Be sure to describe factors that are appropriate for this situation. You might wish to consider framing, temporal discounting, regulatory focus, and biases.ASSIGNMENT 3:

    Do Other Animals Communicate or Have Language? Discussion

    In this unit you've been learning quite a bit about language. You may have been surprised to see that experts disagree about whether humans are alone in having a language. This discussion will allow you to explore this topic in more depth.
    By completing this discussion, you will be able to demonstrate that you are able to
    • Define language and how it relates to communication,
    • Identify the essential characteristics of language (e.g., semantics, grammar, syntax, external reference, duality of patterning, generativity),
    • Compare and contrast human language with the communication systems of other species,
    • Organize and accurately present material, and
    • Apply APA formatting within the text and for end-of-text references, when appropriate.
    Instructions:
    1. Locate an article, website, or video that argues whether non-human animals have language. Provide the link, if possible.
    2. In your initial posting:
      • Summarize your article/website/video
      • What is language? How is language different from communication?
      • What are the essential characteristics of language?
      • Based on your article/website/video, do you believe non-human animals have language? Explain why or why not by focusing on the essential characteristics of language.

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