CCN meeting | Ian Apperly, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, U.K.

22-11-2018 from 15:00 to 16:00
Henri Dunantlaan 2, room 4.2
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Why are there gaps between mindreading competence and performance?


We know that adults have the competence to mindread ¬ to represent the

beliefs, desires and intentions of others - and there is evidence that at

least some mindreading is performed with a significant degree of

automaticity. Why, then, do we sometimes appear not to mindread

successfully, and why do some people seem better at this than others?

I will argue that much mindreading occurs spontaneously rather than

automatically. Spontaneous mindreading does not require explicit

prompting, but is conditional on motivation and on the availability of

sufficient cognitive resources. I will also argue that whether mental

states are inferred automatically, spontaneously, or under instruction,

there is no guarantee that this information will be integrated to guide

ongoing behaviour, in social interaction or communication. Such

integration also requires motivation and cognitive resources. The need for

motivation and cognitive resources opens the door to predictable patterns

of variable performance in mindreading, both within and between

individuals. Finally, I will argue that some mindreading requires

uncertain, ³abductive² inferences, which are likely to highly dependent on

familiarity with the situation in which the inference is made, and

therefore variable within and between individuals in different contexts

and cultures.