The Evolution of 'Theory of Mind': Theory and Experiments
AbstractThis paper provides an evolutionary foundation for our capacity to attribute preferences to others. This ability is intrinsic to game theory, and is a key component of "Theory of Mind", perhaps the capstone of social cognition. We argue here that this component of theory of mind allows organisms to efficiently modify their behavior in strategic environments with a persistent element of novelty. Such environments are represented here by multistage games of perfect information with randomly chosen outcomes. "Theory of Mind" then yields a sharp, unambiguous advantage over less sophisticated, behavioral approaches to strategic interaction. In related experiments, we show the subscale for social skills in standard tests for autism is a highly significant determinant of the speed of learning in such games.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1908.
Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2013
Date of revision:
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Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA
Other versions of this item:
- Erik O. Kimbrough & Nikolaus Robalino & Arthur J. Robson, 2013. "The Evolution of 'Theory of Mind': Theory and Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000735, David K. Levine.
- D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
- C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-09-13 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2013-09-13 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-CDM-2013-09-13 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-EVO-2013-09-13 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2013-09-13 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-HPE-2013-09-13 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-NEU-2013-09-13 (Neuroeconomics)
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