International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 4 Num. 2 - July 2004


A Relational Frame Account of the Development of Complex Cognitive Phenomena: Perspective-taking, False Belief Understanding, and Deception [Una Aproximaci?n Basada en la Relational Frame Theory del Desarrollo de Fen?menos Cognitivos Complejos: Toma de Perspectiva, Comprensi?n de Falsas Creencias, y Decepci?n]

Volume 4 Num. 2 - July 2004 - Pages 303-324


Louise McHugh, Yvonne Barnes-Holmes, and Dermot Barnes-Holmes


Cognitive psychologists have devoted considerable attention to the complex skills described as perspective-taking, understanding false belief, and deception. Much of the available research on these phenomena has been driven by a conceptual approach referred to as ?Theory of Mind?. The current paper reviews the Theory of Mind account of perspective-taking, false belief and deception in terms of the development of increasingly complex levels of understanding the informational states of the self and others. In contrast, these phenomena have attracted little interest traditionally from behavioral psychologists, and the current paper presents conceptual and empirical evidence that this is changing. Specifically, an alternative approach to these skills from a functional behavioral framework is presented in the context of Relational Frame Theory, a modern behavioral account of human language and cognition. The paper describes the relational frame approach to perspective-taking, false belief and deception, and presents several recent studies that have investigated this approach. The results of the studies indicate the potential utility of this approach and also show considerable overlap with the results of Theory of Mind research.

Key words:

Perspective-taking, false belief, deception, theory of mind, RFT, behavioral aproximations

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