Theory of Mind – Chicken or the Egg?

Which came first: The Chicken or the Egg?
Which came first: The Chicken or the Egg?

Hey, so I’m about to riff on Theory of Mind (ToM) for a while.  Right now, I am reading an article called “Developmental Relationships Between Language and Theory of Mind” by Carol Miller.

There is evidence that children with siblings are advantaged in theory of mind development…presumably because of the opportunities for discourse and experiences related to others’ thoughts and feelings that siblings provide.

(Miller 145)

I am going to look at this quote as if it were true.  I am not sure if it is yet, it might be, but I am going to wait to judge until I better understand everything.  At this stage, I am going to look at it as if it were true while looking at it critically for inconsistencies.  So…yeah.

So, the quote above makes me ask the proverbial question of the chicken and the egg.  People with autism either lack or struggle with ToM, if that is true, then is it because:

  1. The lack (or struggle) of theory of mind (in autistics) causes the problems with discourse; or
  2. The autism causes problems in discourse (communicating) which causes lack (or struggle) of theory of mind.

But, what if there was a third option?  What if the question we have been asking has never been correct.  Why are we dichotomizing the chicken and the egg, why do they have to be mutually exclusive?  Once the egg came, did not the chicken come?  What if the lack (or struggle) of theory of mind is actually both caused by and causes that struggle with discourse.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

P.S. In case you are interested, I have linked to a annotated bibliography Prezi that I am putting together in order to be able to visually see the connections between the things I read.


Miller, Carol. “Developmental Relationships between Language and Theory of Mind.” American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 15.2 (May 2006): 142-154. Ebsco. Web. 26 March 2015.

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