A sample story from the children’s ToM experiment

Physical segment:
Out behind the big red barn at the edge of the walnut grove is the most magnificent pond in the neighborhood. It is wide and deep, and shaded by an old oak tree. There are all sorts of things in that pond: fish and old shoes and lost toys and tricycles, and many other surprises.

tree illustration

People segment:
Old Mr. McFeeglebee is a gray wrinkled old farmer, who wears gray wrinkled old overalls, and gray wrinkled old boots. He has lived on this land his whole life, longer even than most of the trees. Little Georgie is Mr. McFeeglebee’s nephew from town.

Mental segment:
Mr. McFeeglebee doesn’t want any little boys to fish in the pond. But little ­Georgie pretends not to notice. He likes fishing so much, and besides, he knows he can run faster than anybody in town. Georgie decides to run away really fast if Mr. McFeeglebee sees him fishing.

Question:
What do you think? Does little Georgie fish in the pond? [pause] Good job! Time for the next story!

This sample is part of a longer MIT News feature, The Story of a Study of the Mind.

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