Mindreading: An Integrated Account of Pretence, Self-Awareness, and Understanding Other Minds

Shaun Nichols, Stephen P. Stich

Research output: Book/ReportBook

424 Scopus citations


This volume defends an integrated account of the psychological mechanisms underlying "mindreading," the commonplace capacity to understand the mind. The authors maintain that it is, as commonsense would suggest, vital to distinguish between reading others' minds and reading one's own. In reading other minds, the imagination plays a central role. As a result, the authors begin with an explicit and systematic account of pretense and imagination which proposes that pretense representations are contained in a separate mental workspace, the "Possible World Box," which is part of the basic architecture of the human mind. The mechanisms subserving pretense get recruited in reading other minds, a capacity that implicates multifarious kinds of processes, including those favored by simulation approaches to mindreading, those favored by information-based approaches, and processes that don't fit into either category. None of these mechanisms or processes, though, explains how we read our own minds, which, according to the authors, requires invoking an entirely independent set of mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages246
ISBN (Electronic)9780191600920
ISBN (Print)9780198236108
StatePublished - Apr 7 2004


  • Autism
  • Belief
  • Desire
  • Eliminativism
  • Folk psychology
  • Imagination
  • Pretense
  • Self-awareness
  • Simulation theory
  • Theory theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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