When a mind develops, it goes through numerous stages of awareness, such as (not necessarily in order)

  • Awareness of others
  • Awareness of self
  • Awareness of other's thoughts (this may not be a discrete stage)

What do you call the awareness of other's awareness of you (and the logical deduction of what they believe you're thinking)?

I believe this should be the stage before meta-gaming is possible.


1 Answer 1


This sort of thinking is called theory of mind (not to be confused with theories of how the mind works).

It's not entirely clear whether theory of mind is a discrete ability or a spectrum, but tasks requiring higher-order theorizing tend to be more difficult and are more likely to be lost to dysfunction:

Cognitive theory of mind is further separated into first order (e.g., I think she thinks that…) and second order (e.g., he thinks that she thinks that…)

I'm not aware of a specific term that distinguishes second-order theory of mind when the second-order person is in fact the first-person rather than a third-person (e.g., "she thinks that I think that...").


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