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Psychol Rev. 1990 Jan;97(1):114-21.

On acquiring knowledge about people and the capacity to pretend: response to Leslie (1987)

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  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England.


Leslie (1987) has proposed a cognitivist model for the young child's "theory of mind" and capacity to pretend. Serious shortcomings in Leslie's nondevelopmental, nonsocial, and restrictively cognitive account are noted, and an alternative thesis is proposed: A young child's knowledge about people is grounded in the experience of affectively charged interpersonal relations, and the child's capacity for pretend play develops on the basis of prior abilities to perceive the nature of other people's relatedness to the world. Clinical phenomena associated with autism and congenital blindness provide evidence for this thesis.

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