“Humans are very good in terms infer another person’s mental state: their emotions, their desires and, in this case, their knowledge,” said study author H. Clark Barrett, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, as reported by LiveScience.
Scientists think that the ability to guess what other people thought appears in childhood. The findings were published on January 29 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: B journal.
In this experiment, the scientists studied about 91 children, ages 19 months to 5 years old, from China, Fiji, and Ecuador. They set up a test that involves one person who comes to a room and put objects into a hiding place. The second man then walked into the room and put the object into the first pocket unnoticed. Then asked the child to guess where people will first look for a hidden object.
It is a complex task because the kids have to have a theory of mind or the ability to understand another person’s perspective. With four to seven years of age, most children (at least according to the study) would say the first would go to the original hiding place.