The mentalistic basis of core social cognition: experiments in preverbal infants and a computational model


Evaluating individuals based on their pro- and anti-social behaviors is fundamental to successful human interaction. Recent research suggests that even preverbal infants engage in social evaluation; however, it remains an open question whether infants' judgments are driven uniquely by an analysis of the mental states that motivate others' helpful and unhelpful actions, or whether non-mentalistic inferences are at play. Here we present evidence from 10-month-olds, motivated and supported by a Bayesian computational model, for mentalistic social evaluation in the first year of life. A video abstract of this article can be viewed at

Vol 16, Issue 2 of Developmental Science
Tomer Ullman
Primary Investigator

My research focuses on the structure and origin of knowledge, guided by perspectives and methods from cognitive science, cognitive development, and computational modeling. By combining these, I hope to better understand the form and development of the basic commonsense reasoning that guides our interaction with the world and the people in it.