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Describe the methods that researchers have used to assess the mind-reading abilities of non-human animals and explain what the research has revealed about whether non-human animals have a theory of mind.


TMA 01
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TMA 01
The assignment

Important: these pages provide guidance on how to write your assignment. Please ensure you read all of this information
right through until the checklist at the end.
Before you start work on this assignment, please ensure that you have read the Assessment Guidance specific to this module
and are familiar with the advice in Social Sciences Assessment Information. These sources contain support and guidance that
you may need in writing your TMA including, for example, advice on plagiarism, referencing and the marking system. Note that
failure to comply with relevant guidance could result in the loss of marks or other penalties.
There are two parts to this TMA. Please note that you must complete both Part 1 (essay question) and Part 2 (two short-answer
questions).
This TMA contributes 9% towards your overall module result.

Part 1: Essay question (60% of the mark for this TMA)
Describe the methods that researchers have used to assess the mind-reading abilities of non-human animals and explain what the
research has revealed about whether non-human animals have a theory of mind.
Word limit: 1000 words
Part 2: Short-answer questions (40% of the mark for this TMA: 20% for Part 2(a) and 20% for Part
2(b)).


Answer both of the following short-answer questions:
On the following pages you will find:
a list of learning outcomes addressed by this assignment
student notes for each part of this assignment
a checklist to ensure you have done everything required for this assignment.

a. Explain the psychological construct of psychopathy and outline how it has been measured.
Word limit: 250 words


b. Explain what developmental psychologists mean when they talk about ‘false belief’ and outline how false belief tasks have
been used to study theory of mind in infants.
Word limit: 250 words


Learning outcomes
The module learning outcomes assessed by TMA 01 are as follows:
Knowledge and understanding
Understanding a wide range of basic psychological concepts and an appreciation of how they apply to everyday life.
Understanding a variety of approaches to psychological research, including different methodologies.
Understanding how psychology addresses issues of diversity, difference and social functioning.
Cognitive skills
Ability to describe a range of key concepts in psychology.
Ability to construct arguments based on psychological theories and research findings.
Ability to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and methodologies in psychology.
Key skills
Ability to communicate psychological knowledge in a variety of formats suitable for traditional academic audiences.
Ability to apply an appropriate referencing system.
Practical and/or professional skills
Use practical and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills that are highly transferable to the workplace and


other settings.
Student notes for Part 1
Focus
The focus of this essay question is on ‘theory of mind’, and how the methods used to assess the mind-reading abilities of animals
have led to revelations about animal minds. You are explicitly asked to describe the methods that have been used to assess the
mind-reading abilities of non-human animals, and to explain what the research has revealed about whether non-human animals
have a theory of mind. Make sure you select relevant examples of different methods and fully explain what these have shown.
Command words


The command word describe requires you to ‘give a detailed account’, in this case of some methods that have been used to
assess the mind-reading abilities of animals.
The command word explain requires you to ‘give details about how and why’ the methods described have led to certain
conclusions about the mind-reading abilities of non-human animals; in other words, what they have revealed about whether
animals have a theory of mind.


Tips for writing
A key skill you will need for this part of the assignment is being able to write a coherent, clear, concise essay within the constraints
of the quite short word count (1000 words). Therefore, you will need to select carefully from the range of potentially relevant
material available.


You are asked to produce a descriptive essay (‘describing’ some methods that have set out to address a particular topic or
question). However, you also need to clearly address the second part of the question, which asks you to ‘explain’ how and why the
methods described have led to particular conclusions about animal minds.
You are likely to want to start by explaining key terms relevant to the question (e.g. ‘theory of mind’), before you move on to present
relevant examples. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to describe a lot of methods in detail, within the word count set, so you will
most likely find it a useful strategy to describe one or two examples in more detail, and then mention other relevant examples more
succinctly if you have the space to do so. The important thing to keep in mind is that your examples should be well chosen, so that
they demonstrate not only how researchers have attempted to assess the mind-reading abilities of animals, but also what the
different methods reveal about the nature of animal minds.
You should finish your essay with a suitable conclusion, summing up what your answer has shown.

Relevant materials for Part 1
Since this essay question requires you to provide an answer in 1000 words, you will need to select and present your material
carefully.
Book 1, Chapter 2 introduces the topic of ‘animal minds’ and discusses a number of different methods used to assess mind-reading
in animals so you will find the material in this chapter particularly relevant for answering this question.


Chapter 2, Section 3 discusses the evolution of brains and minds and the experience of emotions in animals.
Chapter 2, Section 4 describes examples of problem-solving and cooperation in animals – behaviours that have been linked to
theory of mind in humans.
Chapter 2, Section 5 discusses a number of different methods used to assess whether animals understand other minds, so you will
likely find this material particularly useful in addressing the first part of the question. However, be sure to also address the second
part of the question by selecting examples of methods that allow you to explain what the research has revealed about theory of
mind in animals.


You will also find sections of the online material from Week 3 relevant to this question, for example:
Section 6 is focussed on the question of whether animals have a theory of mind and considers non-human animals’ understanding
of ‘seeing’ (section 6.1) and deception (section 6.2).
Section 7 explores the methods used in research studies and provides examples of studies that were undertaken in naturalistic
settings. You may find some of these examples useful for the first part of this question. This section also offers some useful critique
of the methods used to assess whether animals have a theory of mind, which may help you in addressing the second part of the
question.


Student notes for Part 2
A key challenge in short-answer questions is capturing your understanding in a relatively small number of words. This involves
writing succinctly, and spending the necessary time editing sentences to stay within the 250-word limit. These are the key skills that
are being assessed here, together with your understanding of the contribution of key concepts and/or methods in psychology.

Relevant materials for Part 2
Question (a) requires you to explain the psychological construct of psychopathy and outline how it has been measured. You first
need to provide a concise explanation of what this term means, and then explain how it has been measured. You will find material
relevant to this question in Week 4 of the online materials, particularly Sections 4 and 7. You may also want to draw on some of the
material in Section 9.


Question (b) requires you to focus on ‘false belief’, explaining what is meant by this term, and outlining how false belief tasks have
been used to study theory of mind in infants. You first need to give a fairly concise, but clear, explanation of what is meant by ‘false
belief’. You then need to outline how false belief tasks have been used to measure theory of mind in infants. You will find material
relevant to this question in Book 1, Chapter 1 (particularly Section 3, for a definition and explanation of theory of mind and false
belief tasks). Section 4.1 of the Week 2 online materials describes false belief tasks while Section 5 contains relevant material and
examples of the uses of false belief tasks with infants. You may also want to draw on other sections of the Week 2 materials.


Checklist
Have I: Yes No, where can I look for guidance?
Made sure I understand the
question?
Look at Getting started in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’. See also Understanding the
question in ‘Skills for OU Study’.
Read all of the guidance
notes for this assignment?
Carefully read through the student notes that accompany your assignment to check that you
have followed all the advice and instructions.
Actively studied the
relevant module material
and anything else to which
I’ve been directed?
See advice on Critical reading techniques and How to take notes in ‘Skills for OU Study’.
Reflected on my learning,
including feedback
received on earlier
assignments, in order to
improve my skills?
See Be aware of your habits and Learning from feedback in ‘Skills for OU Study’.
Thought about how best to
structure my answer and
questions of style and
language?
Further advice on structuring answers is available in the relevant sections in ‘Social Sciences
Assessment Information’. See, for example, Skill: Essay writing.
For questions relating to style and language, see the section Presentation and language in
‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’. See also Developing academic English and Writing
for university in ‘Skills for OU Study’.
Written in my own words? Guidance on writing in your own words is available in the sections on Skill: Understanding
plagiarism and Skill: Writing in your own words in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’.
Where necessary, used
evidence to back my
arguments, and referenced
correctly?
Advice on using evidence to support your arguments is available in the section on Selecting your
examples‘ in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’. See also Gathering your materials in
‘Skills for OU Study’.
Guidance on referencing is available in the section on Referencing in ‘Social Sciences
Assessment Information’.
Checked my word count? The guidance notes tell you the word limit for each part of the TMA. An answer that is shorter
than the word length by more than 10% is likely to be too short to have fully answered the
question. An answer that exceeds the word limit by more than 10% will be penalised. For further
information see the section on Word length in ‘Social Sciences Assessment Information’.
Written the word count at
the end of each part of my
TMA?
Check the word count and write that figure clearly at the end of each part of the assignment.
Set out my assignment
properly?
See Section 3.4, ‘Conventions for presenting work’ in your module’s ‘Assessment Guidance’,
which you will find under ‘Assessment resources’ on the module website.
Completed each part of the
TMA?
Read through these assignment notes carefully to check that you have completed all the
necessary tasks.

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