This book critically reviews research on the fascinating problem of how children come to understand the social world, an area often known as children's "theories of mind." It will be of interest to a wide variety of readers because the issue of how children begin their entry into the social world is of such essential importance in child development. The authors take an integrated view of the development of children's social understanding, bringing out the connections between mental state understanding and their understanding of language, social skills, morality and emotions. A focus on language is central to their approach, since they propose that language both reflects understanding and facilitates its further development. At the same time, the authors situate their own arguments and interpretations in a historical and theoretical context, discussing them not only in relation to current research and theory on the development of children's social understanding, but also in relation to more general theories of development by Piaget and Vygotsky and, for example, the philosophical work of Wittgenstein.
"The best book there is on children's social-cognitive development - full stop." Michael Tomasello, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Wolfgang Kohler Primate Research Center
"This extraordinarily comprehensive book provides a lucid account of how children develop social understanding. The authors promise broad inquiry into social development and they consistently deliver pushing well beyond a thorough review of the enormous body of prior work on theory of mind. This book will awaken interest in key developmental questions by a new generation of students who become acquainted with the book in upper level seminars or graduate courses where it most certainly should be assigned." Nancy Budwig, Professor of Psychology, Clark University, USA
"Carpendale and Lewis provide an exceptionally clear analysis of the prominent theoretical explanations of children's understanding of beliefs. This work won't end debate, but it may fundamentally revise the research agenda so that the steps along the way to social understanding are more fully revealed." Professor Hildy Ross, University of Waterloo, Canada
"Professors searching for a theoretically rigorous and empirically accurate text to introduce students to the development of children's social cognition will find what they seek in this text. So too will more advanced scholars and students who desire a comprehensive and incisive treatment of the increasingly vast literature on this topic, and the many lively debates it excites. Hats off to Carpendale and Lewis for a job well done." Jack Martin, Fraser University
"How Children Develop Social Understanding is an appreciable piece of work, and I hope Carpendale and Lewis will continue in their successful effort to give us a thoughtful view of children's social-cognitive development. Furthermore, I hope that this book will attract new young researchers from all over the world to the study of a fabulous topic, the development of the child as a social human being." PsycCRITIQUES Volume 51, Issue 43
"This is an important book, and it succeeds on many levels. Most notably, the extensive literature on children's theory of mind is masterfully reviewed and critically assessed in relation to the accumulated findings, replications of findings, and failures to replicate." Human Development 2006; Issue 49