Theory of Mind and Symbolization in Preschool Children



The article analyses the problem of representation in preschool children as it is reflected in researches carried out within the framework of the theory of mind. It describes the main stages of representation development: primary, secondary and metarepresentation, especially focusing on the latter and on such manifestations of representation as the use of models and play activity (J. DeLoache, A. Gopnik, A. Leslie, A. Lillard, A. Meltzoff, J. Perner, P. Harris and others). In describing play activity, the author places special emphasis on how object substitution is understood within the theory of mind. Basing on the scheme presented in J. Perner's works, the author points out that there is no distinguishing between the sign-means and symbolic means in the analysis of child development and stresses the importance of exploring child's actions in situation of uncertainty that lead to the emergence of symbolic mediation, in particular, in play activity. Taking into account the researches carried out within the theory of mind, the author argues for the consideration of symbolic mediation.

General Information

Keywords: theory of mind, symbolization, sign-means, symbolic means, preschool child

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Veraksa A.N. Theory of Mind and Symbolization in Preschool Children. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2011. Vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 9–16. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Aleksandr N. Veraksa, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Head of the Department of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Vice-Director of Psychological Institute, Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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