alexa The pretense debate.
Psychiatry

Psychiatry

Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

Author(s): Stich S, Tarzia J

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Abstract In a number of publications, Alan Leslie and colleagues have developed a theory of the psychological mechanisms underlying pretense. This theory maintains that pretense is an early manifestation of "theory of mind" or "mindreading" - the capacity to attribute mental states to oneself and others. Nichols and Stich proposed an alternative theory of pretense on which pretense in young children does not require mindreading. Rather, they argued, young children have a behavioral understanding of pretense. In a lengthy critique, Friedman and Leslie made a persuasive case that the Nichols and Stich theory cannot account for the early emergence of children's capacity to engage in joint pretense and recognize pretense in others. In this paper, we set out a new "pretense game" theory of pretense that avoids the problems raised by Friedman and Leslie, and does not require that children who engage in joint pretense must have a theory of mind. We go on to argue that our pretense game theory can explain many of the facts about pretense that go unexplained in Leslie's theory. The central shortcoming of Leslie's theory is that it attempts to explain the production and recognition of pretense behavior by positing the existence of an innate concept, without explaining how this concept enables those who have it to recognize or produce pretense behavior. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This article was published in Cognition and referenced in Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

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