Theory of Mind and Relational Complexity
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Cognitive complexity and control theory and relational complexity theory attribute developmental changes in theory of mind (TOM) to complexity. In 3 studies, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds performed TOM tasks (false belief, appearance-reality), less complex connections (Level 1 perspective-taking) tasks, and transformations tasks (understanding the effects of location changes and colored filters) with content similar to TOM. There were also predictor tasks at binary-relational and ternary-relational complexity levels, with different content. Consistent with complexity theories: (a) connections and transformations were easier and mastered earlier than TOM; (b) predictor tasks accounted for more than 80% of age-related variance in TOM; and (c) ternary-relational items accounted for TOM variance, before and after controlling for age and binary-relational items. Prediction did not require hierarchically structured predictor tasks.
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