A-Z Popular Blog Social Thinking Search »
Social Thinking
Agents Of Socialization

Related Topics
Attitude Toward People

Group Behavior

Looking-Glass Self

Safety In Numbers

Social Acceptance

Social Belonging

30 Examples of Theory Of Mind

 , updated on
Theory of mind is a range of abilities related to understanding mental states and using this understanding to adapt thinking, behavior and communication. This includes recognizing your own mental states and the ability to attribute mental states to others. Theory of mind can consider beliefs, desires, intentions, emotions and other elements of perspective such as knowledge or character. This has several levels and variations from the basic understanding that others have their own thoughts and feelings to advanced abilities related to reading people, nuanced communication, influencing and reflecting on your own states of mind.

Basic Theory of Mind

Basic abilities to perceive what others may be thinking and feeling including trying to understand their motivations and intentions. This includes the understanding that others can be wrong about something. Basic theory of mind abilities are typically developed between the ages of 2-5.

Advanced Theory of Mind

The ability to understand the mental states of others develops throughout your life and is a deep type of cognitive skill. We can't read other people's minds such that years of experience in dealing with people will help you to identify what they might be thinking and feeling. Likewise, there is often a great divide between what people say and what they really mean such that reading people is a key to understanding verbal and non-verbal communication.

Social Theory of Mind

Using theory of mind in a social context by monitoring how thoughts, feelings and intentions are flowing in order to communicate and accomplish goals. This includes the capacity to listen intently to others including reading their underlying meaning and emotion.

Contextual Theory of Mind

Considering state of mind with respect to time, culture and situation. For example, understanding that someone you haven't seen for a while is probably in a different mood from the last time you spoke.

Reflective Theory of Mind

Examining your own state of mind including mood, thoughts, attitudes, emotions and perceptions. This can be a reflective thing whereby you consider your mental processes in order to examine and perhaps improve your character or performance. It is also common to monitor your state of mind in real time in order to adapt. For example, recognizing that a negative mood is coloring your thoughts and trying to shift into more positive thought patterns.


Perspective-taking is the ability to consider alternative points of view such as the thoughts and feelings of other people.


Mentalizing is the ability to understand mental states including our own and those of others. This is viewed as an imaginative mental activity that simulates attitudes, beliefs, moods and other elements of state of mind. The term mentalizing is more or less synonymous with theory of mind.

What is State of Mind?

A state of mind, or mental state, is the set of internal factors that influence an individual's thought processes at a point in time. This includes mood, emotions and mental processes such as attention, imagination or perception.
Access to Information
Theory of mind allows us to perceive our own state of mind and to estimate or predict the state of mind of others.

Projection Bias

Projection bias is the invalid assumption that others share your beliefs, attitudes, mood, emotions and perceptions. This is essentially a failure of theory of mind. For example, assuming others feel for you and sympathize when you complain about something even if they are sending you verbal and visual signals that they are disinterested.

Egocentric Projection

Egocentric projection is the tendency to view the state of mind of others as being all about you. For example, you see a stranger with an unpleasant look on their face and you assume they dislike you when in fact they have looked like that all morning.

Illusion of Understanding

While theory of mind is a helpful ability it is also important to remember that you can't know what others are thinking and feeling with any accuracy. Illusion of understanding is a common bias whereby we assume that we know what another person is thinking. While we constantly try to read people in social situations it is perhaps unfair to be strongly judging others based on our imagination about what they are thinking.

Social Thinking

This is the complete list of articles we have written about social thinking.
Attitude Toward People
Consensus Building
Creative Thinking
Group Attitudes
Group Behavior
Life Attitudes
Problem Solving
Social Belonging
Super Ego
Theory Of Mind
More ...
If you enjoyed this page, please consider bookmarking Simplicable.

Social Thinking

The definition of social thinking with examples.

Social Conformity

An overview of social conformity with examples.

Life Attitudes

An overview of life attitudes with lists of examples.

Attitude Toward People

An overview of attitudes toward people with lists of examples.

Group Attitudes

An overview of group attitudes with a list of examples.

Social Behavior

An overview of social behavior.

Social Customs

An overview of social customs, list of examples and comparison to social norms.

Social Traits

Lists of different types of social traits.

Social Belonging

An overview of social belonging with lists of examples.

Group Polarization

An overview of group polarization with examples.
The most popular articles on Simplicable in the past day.

New Articles

Recent posts or updates on Simplicable.
Site Map