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Opacity of other minds, empathy, and 'mindreading' in Samoa : a Samoan case study

Mayer, Andreas

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According to anthropological reports from the Southern Pacific, people from islands such as Papua New Guinea, Yap or Samoa assert that one cannot know what is going on in another person´s mind – instead, they assert the opacity of other minds. Robbins and Rumsey (2008) suggested that such „opacity doctrines“ might force a rethinking of certain Western psychological theories which state that we understand other people´s behaviour by attributing mental states to them. The present work develops a conceptual toolkit which allows for a better comparison of anthropological reports on autochthonous concepts of mind with common concepts in Western psychology such as „mindreading“, empathy and Theory of Mind. With this conceptual toolkit, Samoan case studies and ethnographies will be analysed in order to better understand the scope and meaning of „opacity doctrines“ in Samoa. As a part of this analysis, the results of three empirical studies on Samoan children´s false belief understanding are presented.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Fuchs, Prof. Dr. Thomas
Date of thesis defense: 21 June 2013
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2013 06:44
Date: 2013
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Behavioural and Cultural Studies > Institute of Psychology
Subjects: 150 Psychology
300 Social sciences
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