Blind Faith and False Belief: An Examination of the Development of Theory of Mind in Children with Congenital Profound Visual Impairment

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The purpose of this paper is to closely examine the effects of children with congenital profound visual impairment (CPVI) and a possible correlation to the delay in the development of theory of mind (ToM). Specifically, this paper will compare a study that investigated how visual cues affect the development of ToM to a similarly themed episode from the popular television show Xena: Warrior Princess. On the surface these two groups may appear to be an odd comparison, for children with CPVI and Xena seem like they have nothing in common. However, there is one episode in particular entitled “Blind Faith,” in which these two worlds collide in a unique and surprising way proving and interesting parallel and additional insight into how blindness may affect the development of the theory of mind.

In the article entitled, “An investigation of first-order false belief understanding of children with congenital profound visual impairment,” a detailed look at the development of ToM was performed. Theory of mind (ToM) is defined “as the ability to impute mental states to others and to interpret and predict behavior in terms of those mental states” (Green 1). In order to examine ToM, the study performed a series of false belief tests. False belief can also be explained as misunderstanding which connected to false reasoning. In the case of the children in this study, the false belief would be if they can correctly identify how another person would respond to a specific task, if that person had limited information that the children were previously made privy too. These tests are important because, as they article explains; the testing false belief is the most direct way to access if a person has a fully developed theory of mind (Dennett c...

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...ere is a correlation between blindness and a delay to the development ToM. Whether it’s Xena or children with congenital profound visual impairment it’s obvious that visual cues are significant when trying to interpret the actions of others. Xena, like the children in the study, was forced to rely on other senses to compensate for the lack of visual cues, which is important because without them children are at a disadvantage to understanding the greater world around them.

Works Cited

“Blind Faith.” Xena: Warrior Princess. Created by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi. Perf. Lucy Lawless, Renee O’Connor. USA Network. April 17, 1997.

Green, Sarah, Linda Pring, and John Swettenham. "An Investigation of First-order False Belief

Understanding of Children with Congenital Profound Visual Impairment." British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 22.1 (2004): 1-17.
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