The Language Of Commonsense Psychology

The language of commonsense psychology begins almost as soon as language itself. Inge Bretherton, and her colleagues (Bretherton, McNew, & Beeghly-Smith, 1981) found that 30% of a sample of 20-month-old children were already using some words referring to internal states, most commonly words referring to physiological states such as tiredness and pain, but also words referring to emotional states such as distress, disgust, and affection. Bretherton and Beeghly (1982) asked the mothers of these children at 28 months to report on their children's use of a variety of words referring to internal states using the six categories shown in Table 9.1. The mothers were provided with inventories that listed some 78 different words and were asked to identify those words that they had heard their children use. The findings revealed an impressive level of use of psychological terms in these children not yet 2.5 years old. Most children had already acquired some terms for each of the major psychological relations— epistemic (including perceptual and cognitive categories), emotional, and conative. The perceptual term see was used by all but one of the children and the conative or desire term want was used by all but two. Alarge major-

TABLE 9.1

Percentage of Children Using Internal State Terms at 28 Months (from Bretherton & Beeghly, 1982)

TABLE 9.1

Percentage of Children Using Internal State Terms at 28 Months (from Bretherton & Beeghly, 1982)

Internal State Category

Common Examples

Percentage

Perceptual

See

97

Hear

50

Taste

67

Physiological

Hungry

77

Thirsty

80

Tired

83

Emotional

Like

80

Mad

73

Scared

73

Conative

Want

93

Can

73

Cognitive

Know

66

Think

33

Remember

30

Moral

Good

93

Bad

87

Have to

57

ity of children had also acquired one or more emotion terms, most commonly like, mad, and scared. The category that was least represented in the children's language was cognitive terms, which, apart from know, appeared in fewer than one third of the children's vocabularies. Uses of know, though quite common, were often limited to the formulaic phrase I don't know, which likely meant that the children were not using the word with much if any understanding of its meaning.

The Function of Psychological Terms in Young Children's Talk

Simply recording the presence of psychological terms in children's productive vocabularies tells us when these terms appear but not how children use these words in their communicative interactions. For that it is necessary either to interview mothers to gain contextualized examples of their children's psychological talk, or to observe children directly talking to others. In this way, we can examine in what kinds of utterance these words occur and for what kinds of communicative function the utterances are used. Subsequent research has used such approaches to delve more deeply into how children communicate with adults about psychological relations and also how adults communicate with their children about psychological relations. This research has focused primarily on three groups of terms—those referring to emotions, desires (a group of conative terms), and cognition (a group of epistemic terms).

As we have seen, emotion terms such as happy, sad, and mad, often enter children's vocabularies by the end of the second year. The initial uses tend to be expressions of an emotional orientation, for example, yucky used while rejecting a food. But almost as soon as children are able to incorporate emotional terms into multiword utterances, they are commenting on a wide variety of aspects of emotional events, including what the emotions are about, what caused the emotions, and what resulted from the emotions (see Table 9.2; Bretherton, Fritz, Zahn-Waxler, & Ridgeway, 1986). Consistent with the evidence discussed in chapter 7, that children have by this age a clear sense of self-other equivalence, references are common to both the emotions of self and the emotions of others (Bretherton & Beeghly, 1982; Dunn, Bretherton, & Munn, 1987). Emotion talk is not just about presently occurring emotional events. The world of emotion is detachable from immediate reality. Children talk about past emotional experiences and they anticipate possible future emotions (see Table 9.2). By the middle of the third year, then, children already evidence through their language a quite coherent sense of how emotions are involved in daily social life.

TABLE 9.2

Sample Emotion Utterances From Bretherton, Fritz, Zahn-Waxler, and Ridgeway (1986)

Aspect of Emotional Event Example (Age Produced)

Aboutness of emotion Cause of emotion Result of emotion

Past emotion Future emotion

Grandma mad, I wrote on wall. (28 months)

I'm mad at you Daddy. I'm going away, goodbye. (29 months)

Mommy you went away. I was sad. (25 months)

He's sad. He'll be happy when his daddy comes home. (27 months)

Emotional states typically have salient manifestations from both first- and third-person perspectives, so it is perhaps not surprising that they are talked about early. Other psychological relations are not so obvious, and the developmental pattern of their linguistic expressions varies. Like emotions, desires may be very salient for young children and the desire term want is often acquired by 2 years of age. Initially it tends to have a rather limited function: Want is used primarily by young children to express their desires rather than to talk about the desires of self or others. Indeed, as seen in chapter 8, the pivot schema want-X is commonly used by young children in the earliest stages of word combinations. Even as want becomes incorporated into more complex sentences such as those involving complement phrases, it still is most commonly used by children to express their immediate goals (e.g., I wanna go in the garden; Bartsch & Wellman, 1995; Tomasello, 2003). Nevertheless, by the middle of the third year, children do extend their references to desires to encompass other people's desires and to talk about desires rather than just express them. In an attempt to determine when young children start to use desire terms beyond simply expressing their immediate desires, Karen Bartsch and Henry Wellman conducted an exhaustive analysis of some of the language samples stored on the CHILDES database, a repository of language data (MacWhinney & Snow, 1990). This database contains a number of detailed transcription records of the spontaneous use of language in the everyday lives of various children who had been studied by different researchers. Bartsch and Wellman selected the records of 10 children for whom language samples were available from 18 months to 5 years, and they recorded all utterances involving various desire terms, including want, hope, and wish. In fact, well over 90% of the desire utterances involved want. They found that some 30% of desire utterances before 3 years of age had a second-(you) or third-person (he, she, etc.) subject. Commenting on their own desires is evidenced by utterances in which children remark on the outcome of a previous desire or on the prospect for a future desire. Such talk occurs commonly in the fourth year as illustrated by the following examples (from Bartsch & Wellman, 90):

Adult: Do you remember [what you got as a present]?

Adult: Uh huh.

Abe: 'Cept I didn't want it. I wanted a bat and a baseball.

Adult: Not until you get to be an old man.

Ross: If you die, I want mommy to get another you.

Desire terms can be used both as the main verb of an utterance (1) or to express an attitude to a proposition denoted by another verb (2). Because of the more complex syntax, the use of desire terms to express an attitude to a proposition generally occurs later in development, from around the middle of the third year, than the use of desire terms to express an attitude toward a real object. Similarly, cognitive term utterances such as know and think usually appear as so-called matrix verbs to express attitudes to propositions (3).

(1) John wants a cookie.

(2) John wants his team to win the World Cup.

(3) John thinks his team won the World Cup.

It is no surprise, then, that, as noted earlier, cognitive terms, most commonly know and think, generally are acquired a bit later than emotion and desire terms. Nevertheless, they are in the productive vocabularies of most children by the middle of the third year (Bretherton & Beeghly, 1982). In an early study examining how children use these words, Marilyn Shatz and her colleagues (Shatz, Wellman, & Silber, 1983) examined the cognitive term utterances of one child from the CHILDES database, Abe, from 2 years 4 months to 4 years. Although a wide variety of cognitive terms were included in the corpus of utterances, the two words, know and think accounted for over 70% of all cognitive term utterances. Shatz et al. designed several codes to reflect the different functions these cognitive term utterances could serve. As in Bretherton and Beeghly's study, the most common cognitive term utterance before age 3 was the formulaic I don't know. Two other functions appeared noteworthy in the transcripts before 3 years. First, Abe used a cognitive term utterance to direct attention or introduce a topic (e.g., Know what? or I guess I'll go for a ride). Second, cognitive terms (again notably know and think) were used to mark the degree of certainty with which a statement was made (e.g., I think this is a lamb said to convey uncertainty or I know this fits too said to mark conviction). These functions may collectively be called conversational functions, and they occurred at similar levels throughout the age range studied. The use of cognitive term utterances to refer to psychological events first appeared infrequently at the end of the third year and then increased through the next year so that by the age of 4, this was the most common use of cognitive terms.

The developmental pattern reported by Shatz et al. (1983) was confirmed by Bartsch and Wellman (1995), who examined cognitive terms as well as desire terms in the language samples they analyzed. They found that all 10 of the children in their study, including Abe, showed a marked increase in the use of cognitive terms to make reference to thoughts and beliefs during the fourth year. The following example nicely illustrates the difference between the conversational use of a cognitive term utterance to introduce a topic and the psychological use to make reference to someone's thoughts (Bartsch & Wellman, p. 46):

Mark (3;8): Do you know what? When we were going on our walk I thought we were lost. I thinked we were lost. When we were going on our walk and it was dark.

Genuine references to thoughts are best revealed in utterances in which children explicitly contrast one person's thought or knowledge with a contrasting state of the world or with someone else's thought. Such contrastives can occur within a single utterance, as in the following example from Bartsch and Wellman (1995, pp. 52-53):

Abe (3;6): The people thought Dracula was mean. But he was nice.

They can also occur across discourse turns as in the following example from my daughter, Mackenzie, the week before her fourth birthday, which occurred in a conversation with her friend who attended a different school.

Mackenzie: We had cupcakes at school today.

Aislinn: I know.

Mackenzie: Well no, you don't know. You can't know.

As a rule these uses of cognitive terms that clearly distinguish the different perspectives of the speaker, listener, or some third person appear in children's language as the fourth birthday approaches.

So far we have reviewed how psychological terms are used in young children's speech. Clearly children's psychological talk, whether used to express their feelings or attitudes or to comment on the psychological activity of self and others, occurs in communicative interaction with others. In order to understand how preschool children start to incorporate psychological references into their communicative exchanges it is important to examine how others use psychological references as they participate in interactions with the children. Although parents retain their position as the most influential people in the early lives of children, through the preschool period, interactions with siblings and peers start to play a more prominent role. Inevitably these interactions also serve to hone the development of commonsense psychology.

Studies of mothers and children together have generally shown very interesting associations between mothers' and their children's patterns of use of psychological terms. The first relevant study was carried out by Marjorie Beeghly and her colleagues (Beeghly, Bretherton, & Mervis, 1986), who examined the various categories of internal state terms identified by Bretherton and Beeghly (1982) in a sample of 30 mothers when their chil dren were 13,20, and then 28 months of age. They found different patterns of change for the different types of terms. Volition (or what I call conative) terms, which included the very common want, were used very frequently at all ages. Emotion terms also showed no change with age. However, cognitive terms increased significantly over the period of the study at the same time as perceptual terms were reduced significantly. Clearly, mothers made frequent reference to emotions and desires at all ages but turned to talking less about perceptually available objects and events and more about thoughts as their children developed through this period. At each point of observation, mothers' overall use of internal state terms was correlated with their children's use; this suggests that young children's psychological language is influenced by their linguistic interactions with their parents. However, given that the children were very young at the time of the observations, and thus used some types of internal state terms very infrequently, Beeghly and her colleagues did not examine whether particular types of internal state terms were associated between mothers and their children.

In a study of 14 mothers and their children observed at 2,3, and 4 years of age, we (Moore, Furrow, Chiasson, & Patriquin, 1994) found, as Beeghly and colleagues (1986) had at a younger age, that mothers' use of desire terms was high at all ages but that their use of cognitive terms increased significantly from when their children were 2 to when they were 3 years old. From3 to 4 years, mothers' use of cognitive terms remained stable. In comparison, children's uses of desire terms increased significantly from age 2 to age 3 and then were stable, whereas their use of cognitive terms increased throughout the period of study. There were also significant correlations between the mothers' and children's use of cognitive terms at all the ages studied. These results, along with those from other studies (Beeghly et al.; Brown & Dunn, 1991), show that mothers' pattern of use of desire and cognitive terms corresponds to their children's pattern, but is 6 months to a year ahead. Because the children's use follows their mothers' use, it appears that mothers provide a context for psychological talk that allows their children to acquire and use psychological terms. Children tend to adopt the psychological language that their mothers have been using for a little while, but as they do, their mothers are already moving on to incorporate more advanced psychological language into their conversation.

To further explore the potential role of mothers' use of psychological terms in the development of their children's use, in their study of the use of cognitive terms by young children and their mothers, Furrow and colleagues (Furrow, Moore, Davidge, & Chiasson, 1992) used a functional coding scheme that was modeled on the one Shatz et al. (1983) developed for children. Furrow and colleagues examined the use of cognitive terms in the everyday conversations of 19 mothers and their children in various home contexts when the children were 2 years old, and again when they were 3 years old. Like the other studies on maternal use, they found that mothers increased their use of cognitive terms enormously from when their children were 2 years to when they were 3 years old. Despite this overall increase, use of cognitive terms for different functions did not change proportionally across age. The most common use of cognitive terms by mothers at both time points was for directing action or attention in some way. Some attention-directing utterances were relatively constraining in that the mother used a cognitive term to propose an action or interpretation ("Do you think that's a garage?"), whereas others appeared more to direct the children to think about what they were doing ("Do you know where that goes?"). Mothers also used cognitive terms to talk about psychological states ("Think about it in your head"). Importantly, the study found that mothers who used more cognitive terms to talk about psychological events or to direct their 2-year-olds' thinking had children who at 3 years were using more cognitive terms themselves. These results confirm the importance of maternal input to the acquisition of cognitive terms. But it was not merely the appearance of these terms in the mothers' conversation that was important, it was the mothers' use of these terms to refer to, or encourage, their children's thinking that appeared to be of particular value. Importantly, because mothers' use of cognitive terms in this way when their children were only 2 years old was linked to children's use of cognitive terms at 3 years, the results imply that the mothers' language influences their children's use rather than the other way around.

By the late preschool period, there is evidence that more psychological talk occurs in conversations that children have with siblings or peers than in conversations with parents. Jane Brown and her colleagues (Brown, Donelan-McCall, & Dunn, 1996) studied a sample of children at 47 months of age interacting in one home session with their older siblings and mothers and in another home session with their best friends. They recorded all utterances involving a cognitive term and coded them according to Shatz et al.'s (1983) scheme. The overall rate of cognitive term talk was approximately twice as high when the children talked to their siblings or to their friends compared to when they talked to their mothers, although the mother-child conversations were more often about psychological events than the conversations among children. Nevertheless close to 50% of cognitive term utterances in conversations among children made reference to a psychological state. Also noteworthy was the finding that much of the cognitive talk occurring between friends occurred within the context of pretend play. Clearly, then, there is considerable opportunity for young children to explore their understanding of psychology within their interactions with siblings and peers.

A study by Jennifer Jenkins and her colleagues (Jenkins, Turrell, Kogushi, Lollis, & Ross, 2003) shows more directly the kind of impact that conversations about psychological states among siblings may have on development. They observed 40 families with two parents and two children who were about 2 years apart in age. The first observation took place when the younger children were on average 2 years and 4 months old and the second observation about 2 years later. This design meant that they had observations of both siblings in each pair at approximately the same age of 4 years and 4 months. At each observation point the families were observed for six 90-minute home sessions. These sessions were naturalistic except that major distractions such as TV or video games were not allowed. Overall, and consistent with Brown et al.'s (1996) finding, the children spent more time interacting with each other than they did with their parents. From transcripts of these sessions, the authors recorded all instances of emotion, desire, and cognitive terms, although they did not code them for function. Focusing on the younger children showed that, consistent with other studies, use of cognitive terms increased significantly over the period from 2 to 4 years whereas use of desire terms declined somewhat. Emotion talk remained constant over this age range. The pattern of change over time in mothers' psychological utterances mirrored the younger children's. Indeed mothers used more cognitive terms than desire or feeling terms by the time their younger children were 4 years old. In some ways the most interesting comparison was between the psychological talk of the younger and older siblings when they were the same age. The older siblings who had reached the age of 4 with a younger and therefore less verbal sibling in tow used far fewer cognitive terms at this age than the younger children who had had a more sophisticated older sibling through these preschool years. This direct comparison of children at the same age within the same families attests to the importance of child-child interactions in the development of social competence.

The developmental story that may be told from the various studies of children's production of different psychological terms is quite consistent and relatively simple. Children first acquire psychological terms to express the range of psychological relations that they experience and to regulate their interactions with others. Emotion and desire terms are acquired very early because they typically express psychological relations to real objects or states of affairs—liking, fearing, or wanting things. Cognitive terms appear later because they primarily serve to direct attention to, or express varying degrees of subjective certainty about, more complex information that is expressed propositionally. In all cases, however, these expressions are fundamentally communicative devices to achieve interactive goals—to alleviate an emotion, to satisfy a desire, to direct someone's attention to novel information. At the same time, children's interactive partners are also expressing similar kinds of psychological relations and children need to respond appropriately. Once the terms have been acquired in this way, the expressions themselves become potential topics of discourse so children can start to talk about psychological relations even when they are not currently being expressed. In this way, it is evident that the elaboration of commonsense psychology occurs first in the discursive contexts in which the psychological relations of the child and significant others are topics.

But this is not the end of the story. Although young children use a wide variety of psychological terms to refer to psychological relations of self and other by 4 years of age, they have not yet acquired a systematic conceptual understanding of the psychological relations they are talking about. Rather, the appropriate uses of psychological terms to represent particular psychological events occur in particular contexts to express particular functions. Children understand individual words and their referents without understanding how they fit into a systematic conception of commonsense psychology (Astington & Peskin, 2004; Nelson & Kessler Shaw, 2002). There are two broad types of testing situations in which this limitation is evident. First, studies on children's comprehension of the distinctions among various psychological terms show that children perform quite poorly when required to differentiate the appropriate use of contrasting psychological terms. Second, studies designed to test children's understanding of the psychological referents of these terms also reveal a lag between appropriate conversation about psychological relations and conceptual grasp of the referents.

Comprehension of Psychological Terms

As adults, we have a relatively coherent semantic and pragmatic system for psychological terms that differentiates the meanings and uses of these terms. The commonly studied distinction between know and think suffices to make the point.

(4) John knows that Casablanca is playing at the Arts theater.

(5) John thinks that Casablanca is playing at the Arts theater.

We understand that sentences (4) and (5) differ in their semantic presuppositions, such that the complement clause of (4) is true of the world whereas the complement clause of (5) may or may not be true of the world. The agent (John) may have arrived at his epistemic state in a variety of ways. He may know the truth because he had direct perceptual evidence or he inferred it in some way. Alternatively, he may not know the truth because his evidence was incomplete or his sources unreliable.

Semantic analyses of language attempt to treat meaning independently of use, but in the lives of young children, language is all about use, so we may rephrase the semantic distinction in more pragmatic terms in the following way. We recognize that sentence (4) is an appropriate utterance for a speaker if the speaker and conversational partner are both sure about the truth of the complement. In this case, the speaker, listener, and agent of the sentence (John) all share knowledge. In contrast, sentence (5) is an ap propriate utterance for a speaker under a variety of conditions in which the listener and John do not share the same opinion. Speaker and listener may share knowledge that differs from John's (perhaps they both know that Citizen Kane is actually playing at the Arts theater and the speaker uses the utterance to share with the listener the fact of John's false belief). Speaker and listener may have different opinions (perhaps the speaker is trying to invoke John's opinion in support of the speaker's attempt to convince the listener of her opinion). Finally, speaker and listener may both be unsure of the truth of the complement (and the speaker may be invoking John's belief to guide their joint opinion). In this way the use of know versus think in otherwise equivalent sentences marks the correspondence or lack thereof between the speaker's, listener's, and sentence agent's psychological relation.

(6) I know that Casablanca is playing at the Arts theater.

(7) I think that Casablanca is playing at the Arts theater.

Imagine now that rather than referring to another agent's opinion, the speaker refers to her own opinion, as in (6) and (7). Here the opinion of the speaker and the agent of the sentence necessarily coincide so there is no possibility for the opinion of the agent and the listener to vary independently of the speaker. Under this condition, know is used when a speaker is sure of the truth of the complement, either to affirm an opinion shared between speaker and listener, or to convey the certainty of the speaker's opinion to an uncertain listener. In contrast, think is used when the speaker is uncertain whether the listener has a firm opinion.

Regardless of whether the sentence is produced with a first- or third-person subject, the key point about the know versus think distinction is that it involves the coordination of multiple perspectives on the proposition that follows in the sentence. In order to make the distinction reliably and appropriately, children must be able to coordinate these multiple perspectives. In short, they must be able to appreciate that the opinions of self and others about propositions relating to the world may or may not be shared, and they must be able to distinguish these circumstances.

A variety of studies have been carried out with young children to determine when they are able to distinguish psychological terms according to these semantic and pragmatic criteria (e.g., C. Johnson, 1982). For example, Abbeduto and Rosenberg (1985) investigated when young children recognize the different presuppositions for various cognitive terms. They presented children from 3 to 4 years old with a series of sentences that first set up a context, then introduced a test sentence containing one of the cognitive terms, and finally asked a test question (see Table 9.3). Notice that there was no way to answer the question from the information presented in the

TABLE 9.3

Sample Items From Abbeduto and Rosenberg (1985)

TABLE 9.3

Sample Items From Abbeduto and Rosenberg (1985)

Does Not

Presupposes

Presuppose Truth of the Complement

Truth of the Complement

Context

I have a friend named Mary.

I have a friend named

Mary has a cat

Mary. Mary has a cat

Test sentence

Mary thinks that the cat is slow.

Mary knows that

the cat is slow.

Test question

Is the cat slow?

Is the cat slow?

(correct answer = don't know)

(correct answer = yes)

context questions. The only way to answer correctly was to pay attention to the cognitive term employed in the test sentence. Children could answer "yes," "no," or "don't know." In this study, 4-year-olds but not 3-year-olds reliably answered both know and think cases correctly, showing that they could distinguish these verbs based on the truth status they conferred on their complements.

Children's understanding of the relative certainty expressed by utterances including know, think, and related terms has also been studied (Hirst & Weil, 1982; Moore, Bryant, & Furrow, 1989). My colleagues and I (Moore, et al., 1989) presented children with a game in which they had to find a candy reward hidden in one of two boxes over a series of trials. The only clues they had were pairs of utterances made by two hand puppets, manipulated by the experimenter, that were introduced to the children as helpers. On each trial the two puppets made one statement each and these statements varied only in the critical cognitive term that was used. For example, one puppet said, "I know it's in the red box" and the other puppet said, "I think it's in the blue box." The children were then allowed to choose one of the boxes. In order to guard against learning during the session, the chosen boxes were all set aside until the trials were over, at which time the children were allowed to look in each box. At first glance, this game appears particularly easy; nevertheless the performance of children younger than 4 years was at chance. They could not use the statements to guide their search. In contrast, 4-year-olds and older children were reliably able to pick the box that had been indicated by know, the term expressing greater certainty.

In contrast to the considerable literature on young children's developing comprehension of cognitive terms such as know and think, their understanding of desire terms has attracted rather less interest. We do know, however, that although children use desire terms very early, their understanding of desire term distinctions is no better than their understanding of cognitive term distinctions. The two most commonly used terms, need and want, differ in a variety of ways. For example, need often expresses an instrumental desire, whereas want expresses an intrinsic desire. We (Moore, Gilbert, & Sapp, 1995) examined this distinction in 3- to 5-year-old children who were told stories with toy props in which two characters expressed a desire for an attractive yet functional object. The circumstances of the two characters differed such that one required the object for a purpose whereas the other did not. The children were then asked whether each character "wanted" or "needed" the object (see Table 9.4). Even though they could remember the facts of the story in answer to the memory control question, the 3-year-olds performed at chance—they did not see a difference between want and need. In contrast, by 4 years, children correctly said that the character with the instrumental desire "needed" the object whereas the character with the intrinsic desire "wanted" it.

These and a variety of other studies using experimental approaches to the comprehension of psychological terms show that from about 4 years of age children have a good grasp of the distinctions between the most common psychological terms, know and think, want and need. They are therefore able to coordinate the multiple perspectives of speaker, listener, and sentence agent and recognize when these perspectives coincide or diverge. Importantly, the results from these comprehension tasks fit well with the results from observational studies that show the most sophisticated uses of cognitive terms to represent differing perspectives appearing toward the end of the fourth year (Bartsch & Wellman, 1995). In summary, by 4 years of

TABLE 9.4

Sample Story and Questions From the Comprehension Study of Desire Terms Want and Need (Moore, Gilbert, & Sapp, 1995)

Sample story

This is a story about two little boys named John and Bill. One day John and Bill are outside playing on the slide. Then Daddy tells them it is time to go home: "Come on boys it's time to go home." John slides down the slide, falls down but is okay and walks over to Daddy. Bill slides down the slide, falls down, cuts his knee, and starts to cry, "Daddy my knee hurts!" They all walk home and Mummy has just come home from the store, and she has brought home this bandaid [the child is shown a Band-Art bandaid with colourful pictures on it]. John is okay, but Bill's knee is still bleeding. When the two boys see the bandaid, they both say, "Gimme the bandaid please mummy."

Test questions

Does John want the bandaid or does he need the bandaid?

Does Bill want the bandaid or does he need the bandaid? Memory control question

Who fell off the slide and cut his knee?

age, children's language shows that they understand that different people may have different psychological relations to representational or perspectival information.

The developmental sequence observed with the production and comprehension of psychological terms reflects the pattern of hierarchical language development that we have seen before. Children first participate with others in structured interactions involving psychological terms. These terms are initially used in utterances designed to regulate those interac-tions—to express emotions and desires, to direct action in relation to ongoing events, or to modulate certainty about information. So psychological terms arise first as a means to regulate joint attentional interactions around objects, events, or information. However, once in place, these utterances involving psychological terms may themselves become the focus of further interactions. Children and parents can begin to talk about the emotions and desires expressed or about the epistemic attitudes to information. In so doing, these psychological perspectives and their potential diversity across different people can start to be understood.

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