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Mental evolution and development: Evidence for secondary representation in children, great apes and other animals

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T Suddendorf, Andrew Whiten

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Recent interest in the development and evolution of theory of mind has provided a wealth of information about representational skills in both children and animals, According to J, Perrier (1991), children begin to entertain secondary representations in the 2nd year of life. This advance manifests in their passing hidden displacement tasks, engaging in pretense and means-ends reasoning, interpreting external representations, displaying mirror self-recognition and empathic behavior, and showing an early understanding of "mind" and imitation. New data show a cluster of mental accomplishments in great apes that is very similar to that observed in 2-year-old humans. It is suggested that it is most parsimonious to assume that this cognitive profile is of homologous origin and that great apes possess secondary representational capacity. Evidence from animals other than apes is scant. This analysis leads to a number of predictions for future research.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-650
Number of pages22
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2001

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