I was contemplating false beliefs while running today.
I was thinking about kids and why exactly around age 3 they are able to project their experience onto someone else and realize that someone who didn’t share their experience will likely have differing beliefs.
The traditional experiment is putting candy in a box, having one experimenter leave the room, replacing the candy with pencils, bringing the experimenter back and asking the child what that person thinks is in the box.
Before age 3 a child will answer “pencils” and after 3 will answer “candy.”
The thing is, I would answer “pencils.” Certainly I know that the second experimenter didn’t experience seeing the pencils go into the box, but I understand that I am part of an experiment and that this other person is a part of it as well.
I’d be curious to perform the experiment and see if there’s an age where it flips back to people saying “pencils.”
One of the big questions is: “how much of the process of being able to correctly generate false beliefs is a function of physical neurological development and how much is a function of being exposed to learning situations where the individual doesn’t correctly process a false belief and has to correct themselves?”
To the extent that the process is experiential rather than neurological it is a function of chance how frequently a child has the appropriate experiences.
I am wondering this because I keep running into people who have the empathic capacity of a brick.
What if their inability to understand the minds of the people around them is a function not of some natural neurological function but instead marks a concrete cognitive function that is simply undeveloped?
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