A theoretically driven meta-analysis of implicit theory of mind studies: The role of factivity

AbstractThe capacity for Theory of Mind (ToM) allows us to represent others’ understanding of the world independently from our own and then explain and predict their actions in terms of their understanding. Researchers have often focused on trying to find evidence for an implicit theory of mind system: one that emerges early in human ontogeny and operates mandatorially in adults. In this paper, we ask how the recent methodological push towards replication can be used as a tool that bears on a key theoretical distinction in implicit Theory of Mind, namely the distinction between factive and non-factive ToM representation. Unlike other meta-analyses, our primary interest is not the overall replicability of theory of mind findings. Instead, we ask whether the replicability of implicit theory of mind tasks depends in part on whether they measured factive or non-factive ToM. We find that, to the extent that there is replicable and robust evidence for implicit ToM, that evidence largely comes from tests that investigated factive ToM representations. This analysis is a proof of concept of the broader potential for using replication attempts to ask theoretically motivated questions.

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