Thinking about what others believe is hard work

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Science  16 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6343, pp. 1135-1136
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6343.1135-c

In a remarkable set of studies, Powell and Carey marry two previously unlinked lines of research. Executive function refers to the ability to make decisions, such as being able to switch from pressing the keyboard down (up) arrow when seeing a down (up) arrow on the computer screen to pressing the up (down) arrow when seeing a down (up) arrow. A person's ability to carry out such a task diminishes after being forced to exercise self-control (for example, for a child, waiting to open a box of toys). Theory of mind involves predicting another's behavior on the basis of understanding that person's beliefs. After suffering through the delayed-gratification exercise, 4- and 5-year-old children displayed impaired theory-of-mind capabilities.

Cognition 164, 150 (2017).

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