March/April Update

Regular meetings

Recently the Two-systems Account of Theory of Mind has received a lot of attention – we spent a few meetings discussing this approach, the theoretical applications, and some of the empirical evidence to support this theoretical account. The two-systems theory has recently informed a lot of empirical research – we looked more closely at studies by Low et al, examining interference from another’s perspective in tasks, and at non-linguistic tests of identity False Beliefs. Our particular focus was if this account could explain (or even if it tries to explain) mentalising skills in non-human animals.

Our intense focus on this topic had a particular reason: Ian Apperly and Steve Butterfill, two main proponents of this theory, came to visit us at the end of April!


Steve Butterfill and Ian Apperly’s visit

Ian and Steve came to St Andrews for two days of intense discussions of the two-systems-account, and all things Theory of Mind. Ian presented his latest empirical work on the topic, showing us more evidence that we seem to unconsciously process another’s perspective in a number of situations. On the second day Steve introduced us to his account of object perception. We like to thank Ian and Steve for joining us, and for engaging in a marathon of answering questions, clarifying theory, and discussing these topics!


Science Night at RZSS Edinburgh

On April 9th, Edinburgh Zoo hosted a special Science Night, featuring conservation, research, plenty of opportunity to participate, and, of course, all of the zoo’s animals.

Of course the “Rethinking Mind and Meaning”-Team was very excited to be part of this event. We set up camp in the Budongo trail exhibition and send the evening discussing animal minds with all visitors. Using stickers we asked kids, grown-ups, students, zoo staff, and everyone else who stopped by which animals they thought had a mind like ours, which animals have no mind at all, and how animal minds differ from human minds. Several hundred people talked to us, and helped us to think about these topics. People told us about their experience with animals, made comparisons in cognitive skills such as memories, chatted with us about how we can investigate these questions empirically and how we can properly explain what it is that animals think.

A very big Thank You to Edinburgh Zoo for hosting such a fantastic event!


Empirical Work at Living Links

Thanks to very cooperative monkeys we have completed our data collection at Living Links. We now have to develop a coding scheme and get to work on our video material.



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