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How children learn to navigate the symbolic world of pictures: the importance of the artist's mind and differentiating picture modalities

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Pictures offer a unique and essential contribution to our lives, both in terms of aesthetic pleasure and links to symbolic thought. As such, psychologists have devoted significant time to investigating how children acquire an understanding of pictures. This chapter focuses on two particular facets of this development: the role of the artist and the importance of picture modality. First, we review work that has focused on tracking children's ability to (a) map the relationship between the mental state of the artist and their pictures, and (b) incorporate such considerations into their evaluations of pictures. Drawing these literatures together provides an up-to-date account of how children acquire a mentalistic understanding of pictures. Second, we argue that a mature theory of pictures must enable children to distinguish between different picture types (e.g., photographs vs drawings), and therefore that picture modality should be incorporated into existing theoretical accounts of pictorial development.