ArticlePDF Available

Perspective mistaking: Accurately understanding the mind of another requires getting perspective, not taking perspective

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Taking another person’s perspective is widely presumed to increase interpersonal understanding. Very few experiments, however, have actually tested whether perspective taking increases accuracy when predicting another person’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or other mental states. Those that do yield inconsistent results, or they confound accuracy with egocentrism. Here we report 25 experiments testing whether being instructed to adopt another person’s perspective increases interpersonal insight. These experiments include a wide range of accuracy tests that disentangle egocentrism and accuracy, such as predicting another person’s emotions from facial expressions and body postures, predicting fake versus genuine smiles, predicting when a person is lying or telling the truth, and predicting a spouse’s activity preferences and consumer attitudes. Although a large majority of pretest participants believed that perspective taking would systematically increase accuracy on these tasks, we failed to find any consistent evidence that it actually did so. If anything, perspective taking decreased accuracy overall while occasionally increasing confidence in judgment. Perspective taking reduced egocentric biases, but the information used in its place was not systematically more accurate. A final experiment confirmed that getting another person’s perspective directly, through conversation, increased accuracy but that perspective taking did not. Increasing interpersonal accuracy seems to require gaining new information rather than utilizing existing knowledge about another person. Understanding the mind of another person is therefore enabled by getting perspective, not simply taking perspective.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Perspective Mistaking: Accurately Understanding the Mind of Another
Requires Getting Perspective, Not Taking Perspective
Tal Eyal
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Mary Steffel
Northeastern University
Nicholas Epley
University of Chicago
Taking another person’s perspective is widely presumed to increase interpersonal understanding. Very
few experiments, however, have actually tested whether perspective taking increases accuracy when
predicting another person’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or other mental states. Those that do yield
inconsistent results, or they confound accuracy with egocentrism. Here we report 25 experiments testing
whether being instructed to adopt another person’s perspective increases interpersonal insight. These
experiments include a wide range of accuracy tests that disentangle egocentrism and accuracy, such as
predicting another person’s emotions from facial expressions and body postures, predicting fake versus
genuine smiles, predicting when a person is lying or telling the truth, and predicting a spouse’s activity
preferences and consumer attitudes. Although a large majority of pretest participants believed that
perspective taking would systematically increase accuracy on these tasks, we failed to find any consistent
evidence that it actually did so. If anything, perspective taking decreased accuracy overall while
occasionally increasing confidence in judgment. Perspective taking reduced egocentric biases, but the
information used in its place was not systematically more accurate. A final experiment confirmed that
getting another person’s perspective directly, through conversation, increased accuracy but that perspec-
tive taking did not. Increasing interpersonal accuracy seems to require gaining new information rather
than utilizing existing knowledge about another person. Understanding the mind of another person is
therefore enabled by getting perspective, not simply taking perspective.
Keywords: egocentrism, empathy, interpersonal accuracy, perspective taking, social cognition
Supplemental materials: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000115.supp
Understanding the minds of others is essential for social func-
tioning, but another person’s mind is one of the most complicated
systems that any person will ever think about. Just consider the
numbers. The average human brain contains roughly one hundred
billion neurons connected to anywhere between one thousand and
10 thousand other neurons through synapses that can be in a
variety of excitatory or inhibitory states. Based on these figures,
neuroscientists calculate that a human brain could be in more
possible brain states than there are elementary particles in the
known universe (Ramachandran, 2004, p. 3). Given the complex-
ity of another person’s mind, what strategy should people use to
understand the mind of another person more accurately?
One strategy is so routinely endorsed that its effectiveness
seems taken for granted: perspective taking. That is, to understand
another person’s mind accurately you have to overcome your own
egocentric perspective, “put yourself in another person’s shoes,”
and try to perceive a situation from another person’s point of view.
This suggestion appears in politics, as when Barak Obama argued
before the United Nations, “the deadlock [between the Israelis and
Palestinians] will only be broken when each side learns to stand in
each other’s shoes.” It appears in best-selling wisdom about human
relations, as when Dale Carnegie (1936) lists the principles that
will teach you How to Win Friends and Influence People. Principle
#8 is “a formula that will work wonders for you:....Tryhonestly
to see things from the other person’s point of view.” And, accord-
ing to a survey we conducted, it appears so routinely in people’s
intuitions as to qualify as genuine common sense.
In this survey, 336 Amazon.com Mechanical Turk workers read
about a series of experiments we conducted in which participants
completed one of eight tests of interpersonal understanding (de-
scribed later in detail). Four tests were taken from the existing
scientific literature: The Mind in Eyes Test (Baron-Cohen, Wheel-
wright, Hill, Raste, & Plumb, 2001), the Diagnostic Analysis of
Nonverbal Behavior for faces (DANVA-faces, Nowicki & Duke,
1994), the Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Behavior for postures
(DANVA-postures, Nowicki & Duke, 1994), and the Fake Smiles
Test (BBC science website; e.g., Bernstein, Sacco, Brown, Young,
Tal Eyal, Department of Psychology, Ben Gurion University of the
Negev; Mary Steffel, D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern
University; Nicholas Epley, Booth School of Business, University of
Chicago.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tal Eyal,
Department of Psychology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-
Sheva 84105, Israel. E-mail: taleyal@bgu.ac.il
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
© 2018 American Psychological Association 2018, Vol. 114, No. 4, 547–571
0022-3514/18/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000115
547
& Claypool, 2010). Four additional tests were relatively routine
social judgments: predicting a romantic partner’s consumer atti-
tudes, movie preferences, activity preferences, and joke prefer-
ences. Participants were randomly assigned to read a short descrip-
tion of just one of these tests and were presented with one sample
item. Participants then predicted which of two groups of people
was more accurate in an experiment: people in a control condition
who simply completed the test without further instruction, or
people in a perspective taking condition who were asked to com-
plete the test while “trying to adopt the perspective of the other
person, putting yourself into the other person’s shoes as if you
were that person.” Participants predicted the outcome of the ex-
periment by choosing one of three options: “Condition 1 (Control)
did significantly better,” “Condition 2 (Perspective Taking) did
significantly better,” or “No significant difference between the two
conditions in performance on the test.”
As shown in Figure 1, most participants predicted that partici-
pants in the perspective taking condition were more accurate than
those in the control condition (67.75%). Few believed that partic-
ipants in the control condition were more accurate (16%) or that
participants in the two conditions differed in accuracy (16.25%).
Even those who are unlikely to have ever read Dale Carnegie’s
book seem likely to believe in his “formula that will work wonders
for you.”
Despite a large scientific literature on the consequences of
perspective taking in social interaction, whether perspective taking
actually increases accurate insight into the mind of another person
is unclear. Many experiments test how perspective taking affects
social cognition or interpersonal interaction. Very few measure the
accuracy of interpersonal judgments. Those that do provide incon-
sistent results, or confound egocentrism and accuracy, making it
difficult to assess whether perspective taking merely shifts per-
spective or actually increases accurate insight. Here we report a
large number of experiments that test whether perspective taking
increases interpersonal accuracy, using the very same tests from
the pretest described above plus several others. These experiments
are important because they are the first to systematically examine
the validity of a widely endorsed strategy for increasing interper-
sonal insight. They make an important theoretical advance by
clarifying the nuanced consequences of a frequently studied topic
in social psychology, thereby providing a better understanding of
how perspective taking may affect interpersonal interactions.
These experiments also offer practical advice about how to under-
stand the mind of another person more accurately. Perspective
taking may indeed work wonders for you in social life. Is increas-
ing accurate insight into the mind of another person one of them?
Known Consequences of Perspective Taking
Each person views the world from a potentially unique vantage
point, collecting information through physical senses and inter-
preting it through his or her own beliefs, attitudes, knowledge,
experiences, and personality. Children become aware of their
unique perspective as they age because they learn that others
sometimes evaluate the world differently. This learning develops a
highly sophisticated capacity to imagine another person’s unique
perspective in adulthood, a capacity for social cognition that seems
unmatched by any other species (Herrmann, Call, Hernández-
Lloreda, Hare, & Tomasello, 2007).
Having a capacity and using that capacity, however, are two
very different things. Considering another person’s perspective
does not seem to be automatic and effortless, but instead requires
time, motivation, and attentional resources to execute. Anything
that reduces the time, inclination, or attention available for per-
spective taking increases reliance on a relatively automatic ego-
centric default in judgment (Epley, Keysar, Van Boven, & Gilov-
ich, 2004;Epley, Morewedge, & Keysar, 2004;Karniol, 2003).
Likewise, explicitly encouraging perspective taking, by instructing
people to “put themselves in another person’s shoes” and imagine
another’s thoughts and feelings as if they were this other person,
reliably affects people’s inferences and actions toward others com-
pared with receiving no explicit encouragement.
Existing research on perspective taking typically does not assess
interpersonal accuracy, but instead measures intrapersonal conse-
quences that follow directly from being asked to shift from an
egocentric perspective to an allocentric perspective. For instance,
people who are explicitly instructed to attend to another’s perspec-
tive are more likely to engage in deliberate thinking (e.g., Epley et
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Mind in Eyes DANVA
Faces
DANVA
Postures
Fake Smiles Consumer
attitudes
Movie
preferences
Activity
preferences
Joke
preferences
% of Participants
Control Bette
r
PT Better
The Same
Figure 1. Percentage of participants who predicted that accuracy would be higher in the perspective taking
condition, higher in the control condition, or equally the same in both conditions (Pretest).
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
548 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
al., 2004;Todd, Bodenhausen, Richeson, & Galinsky, 2011;Todd,
Galinsky, & Bodenhausen, 2012), mimic another person (Char-
trand & Bargh, 1999;Genschow, Florack, & Wanke, 2013), report
empathizing with another person’s emotional state (Batson, Early,
& Salvarni, 1997;Davis, 1983;Maner et al., 2002; cf. Vorauer &
Sasaki, 2009), take on another person’s stereotypic attributes (Ga-
linsky, Wang, & Ku, 2008), and rely less on egocentric defaults in
judgment (Caruso, Epley, & Bazerman, 2006;Savitsky, Van
Boven, Epley, & Wight, 2005;Steffel & LeBoeuf, 2014;Wade-
Benzoni, Tenbrunsel, & Bazerman, 1996;Yaniv & Choshen-
Hillel, 2012;Zhang & Epley, 2009). Imagining oneself as another
person also increases a sense of similarity with the other person
(Davis, Conklin, Smith, & Luce, 1996), reduces the use of group-
based stereotypes when evaluating others (Galinsky & Moskowitz,
2000), and reduces prejudice toward outgroups (Todd, Boden-
hausen et al., 2011). In negotiations, perspective taking can in-
crease coordination and cooperation, improving outcomes for both
sides in contexts where a purely self-focused approach is detri-
mental (Galinsky, Maddux, & Gilin, & White, 2008;Gilin, Mad-
dux, Carpenter, & Galinsky, 2013;Trötschel, Huffmeier,
Loschelder, Schwartz, & Gollwitzer, 2011).
All of these results suggest that being told to put oneself into
another’s perspective may result in increased interpersonal accu-
racy. First, deliberation increases accuracy on many decisions
(e.g., Payne, Bettman, & Johnson, 1988, but see Ambady & Gray,
2002 and Hall et al., 2009). Second, mimicking another’s facial
expression or body language could increase emotion recognition
accuracy (e.g., Niedenthal, Brauer, Halberstadt, & Innes-Ker,
2001;Oberman, Winkielman, & Ramachandran, 2007;Stel & van
Knippenberg, 2008; cf., Hess & Blairy, 2001;Cheung, Slotter, &
Gardner, 2015). Third, shifting attention to another’s perspective
(Yaniv & Choshen-Hillel, 2012;Zhang & Epley, 2009) may lead
perceivers to focus on cues that yield more accurate judgment.
Fourth, perspective taking can create a merging of one’s cognition,
emotion, motivation, and action with those of another person
(Davis et al., 1996), thereby increasing the sense of similarity to
that person and strengthening relational bonds (Galinsky, Ku, &
Wang, 2005).
Unknown Consequences of Perspective Taking
At first glance, merging of self and another by reducing ego-
centrism and decreasing stereotyping would seem to qualify as
evidence of more accurate insight. However, most existing exper-
imental research examines the psychological consequences of per-
spective taking only in the mind of the perspective taker. Without
measuring the mind of the person whose perspective was taken,
researchers cannot tell whether perspective taking increases accu-
racy in judgment or not. Perspective taking may increase the
tendency to feel the pain another person is presumed to be feeling
(Batson et al., 1997), but does it increase the accuracy of recog-
nizing how much pain another person is actually feeling? Adopt-
ing an adversary’s perspective in a negotiation could improve
outcomes in some specific settings (Galinsky et al., 2008;Gilin et
al., 2013), but does it do so by increasing insight into the other
side’s sophisticated preferences or through some other mechanism
(such as an increased willingness to cooperate, or incorporating
another person’s known preferences into one’s own behavior)?
Reducing a bias like egocentrism or stereotyping is not the same
as increasing accuracy in judgment, even though evidence of the
former could easily be mistaken for direct evidence of the latter. A
bias in judgment is a systematic tendency that departs from a
normative standard. The normative standard could be logical,
rational, or moral, but it need not be accuracy. Likewise, reducing
an egocentric bias or reliance on a stereotype could increase
accurate insight into the mind of another person, but it does not
have to. For instance, one of the most reliable egocentric biases in
judgment is a tendency to assume that others’ attitudes and pref-
erences are relatively similar to one’s own (Ross, Greene, &
House, 1977). If two people actually have very different attitudes,
then reducing egocentrism through perspective taking should log-
ically increase accuracy at predicting another person’s beliefs, not
necessarily because a person has achieved genuinely greater in-
sight into the mind of another person but rather because they have
simply relied less on a known source of error. If, however, two
people actually have very similar attitudes, then reducing egocen-
trism to an equivalent degree through perspective taking could
decrease accuracy. In one experiment consistent with the latter
possibility, married couples would have been more accurate pre-
dicting each other’s preferences if they simply projected their
beliefs completely onto their partner (Hoch, 1987). Decreasing
egocentrism in this experiment could have decreased accuracy
because married couples tend to have very similar beliefs.
Reducing reliance on stereotypes also does not necessarily in-
crease accuracy (Jussim, Crawford, & Rubinstein, 2015). When
beliefs about a group (that is, a stereotype) contain some degree of
accuracy, such as believing that tigers are dangerous but rabbits are
not, then reducing reliance on it could decrease the overall accu-
racy of judgments about a specific individual. For instance, per-
spective taking in one experiment reduced the tendency of rela-
tively young participants to rely on stereotypes about the elderly
when evaluating a relatively old person (Galinsky & Moskowitz,
2000). However, age-related stereotypes appear to contain a large
degree of accuracy, qualifying as perhaps the most accurate ste-
reotype that psychologists have identified (Chan et al., 2012).
Reducing a young person’s use of an age-related stereotype when
thinking about an elderly person does not necessarily mean that
she will evaluate an elderly person more accurately. In fact, she
might evaluate an elderly person less accurately. A person standing
in front of a wild tiger who fails to consult his tiger stereotype is
unlikely to gain more insight into the tiger’s likely behavior.
Without measuring the actual attitudes or experience of an elderly
person, or the behavioral proclivities of a tiger, a researcher cannot
tell whether reducing reliance on a stereotype increases the accu-
racy of judgment or not.
Unfortunately, existing experiments often subtly confound a
reduction in bias with an increase in accuracy because researchers
purposely study contexts in which people’s perspectives are
known to diverge. These include known perspective gaps between
buyers and sellers (Galinsky et al., 2008), givers and receivers
(Adams, Flynn, & Norton, 2012;Baskin, Wakslak, Trope, &
Novemsky, 2014;Cavanaugh, Gino, & Fitzsimons, 2015;Flynn &
Adams, 2009;Gino & Flynn, 2011;Teigen, Olsen, & Solås, 2005;
Zhang & Epley, 2009,2012), Republicans and Democrats (Van
Boven, Judd, & Sherman, 2012), speakers and listeners (Stinson &
Ickes, 1992), actors and observers (Davis et al., 1996;Pronin &
Ross, 2006), or negotiators with opposing incentives (Epley,
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
549
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
Caruso, & Bazerman, 2006;Galinsky & Mussweiler, 2001;
Trötschel et al., 2011). In these nonrandomly selected situations
where there is a known egocentric bias that creates a systematic
error in judgment, reducing an egocentric bias will increase accu-
racy by necessity in much the same way that decreasing a bias to
pick “tails” in a coin flip would increase accuracy in predicting a
two-headed coin. For instance, if Republicans and Democrats are
known to have opposing views on an issue, and researchers select
only this issue to study instead of a randomly sampled set of issues
that vary in the degree of opposition, then reducing egocentrism by
encouraging perspective taking would increase accuracy by neces-
sity even if a person does not actually gain any new insight into the
mind of the opposition. Increased accuracy from perspective tak-
ing would be reflected in an ability to differentiate between atti-
tudes that truly differ and attitudes that do not. Testing whether
explicit perspective taking actually increases understanding of
another’s mind requires measuring sensitivity to the actual mental
states of another person in cases where two minds are not already
known to have systematically opposing viewpoints.
The surprisingly few published experiments that actually do
measure interpersonal accuracy following perspective taking yield
inconsistent results. In one involving a dictator game (Gilin et al.,
2013), the authors report that encouraging perspective taking in-
creased participants’ ability to accurately identify good potential
game partners from bad ones (defined as partners who were likely
to be generous vs. selfish) based on cognitive appeals, compared
with participants who were asked to empathize with their partner.
However, the “partners” in the one experiment that measured
accuracy (Study 4) were hypothetical rather than real, and accu-
racy was defined as agreement with the authors’ assessment of
these hypothetical appeals rather than agreement with actual be-
havior of real people. Nevertheless, these results suggest that
perspective taking might focus attention on cues that increase
accuracy in judgment.
Other results suggest no increase in accuracy following perspec-
tive taking or even a decrease in accuracy. In two different exper-
iments, participants were asked to predict how attractive a member
of the opposite sex would evaluate them. Being explicitly asked to
adopt an observer’s perspective did not significantly increase
people’s ability to accurately predict others’ evaluations of them
(Eyal & Epley, 2010). In a series of competitive negotiations,
adopting the perspective of an opponent led participants to over-
estimate how selfish their partners would be compared with a
control condition, suggesting less accuracy following perspective
taking (Epley et al., 2006). In a study of close relationships,
encouraging perspective taking increased the tendency to overes-
timate how transparent one’s values, preferences, traits, and feel-
ings were to a close relationship partner (Vorauer & Sucharyna,
2013).
These results do not invalidate the common wisdom and occa-
sional experimental evidence that perspective taking increases
accuracy in social judgment, but these results along with method-
ological confounds and potential misinterpretations suggest that
the common wisdom about putting oneself in another person’s
shoes deserves systematic empirical attention. On the one hand,
being explicitly asked to engage in perspective taking could in-
crease accuracy in interpersonal judgment by highlighting accurate
information that a person might otherwise overlook. On the other
hand, being explicitly asked to engage in perspective taking might
have no meaningful effect on accuracy if the information people
consult is not systematically more accurate than the information
they would have consulted without being asked to engage in
perspective taking. In general, we would expect interpersonal
accuracy to increase only when people get additional information
about another person that is more accurate than what they would
have consulted otherwise. Our current experiments test whether
perspective taking does this reliably across many different con-
texts, or not. Answering this question is essential for developing
accurate theories of the consequences of perspective taking in
social interactions.
Preview of Current Experiments
We report the results of a long process of testing many different
methods and measures to examine whether or not perspective
taking systematically increases interpersonal accuracy. We began
by using direct tests of interpersonal accuracy taken from the
empirical literature that both our pretest participants and existing
psychological theory predict would increase accuracy. From our
very first experiments, we identified reliable effects of perspective
taking on some measures, including increased self-reported effort
to take another person’s perspective, increased mental effort (e.g.,
greater response times), and occasionally, increased confidence in
judgment. However, we found no reliable increases in accuracy. If
anything, accuracy was somewhat worse (and sometimes signifi-
cantly worse) among perspective takers than among control par-
ticipants. These initial results led us on a long empirical trail of
testing whether any theoretically relevant measure of accuracy
would benefit from perspective taking. Our selection of experi-
mental stimuli was guided by presumed mechanisms by which
perspective taking could increase accuracy in an effort to be as
comprehensive as possible, using both standardized measures from
the existing literature as well as more naturalistic tests derived for
our purposes. Our experiments tested accuracy among strangers,
acquaintances, friends, and spouses. Our experiments found no
evidence that the cognitive effort of imagining oneself in another
person’s shoes, studied so widely in the psychological literature,
increases a person’s ability to accurately understand another’s
mind. Of course, it is always possible that our experiments failed
to test just the right measure, or the precise context in which
perspective taking could increase accuracy. We simply note that
our experiments involved contexts in which we, and our pretest
participants, expected that perspective taking could plausibly in-
crease accuracy. Indeed, our pretest participants predicted signif-
icantly more accurate judgments in the perspective taking condi-
tion on every measure we asked them about.
Because of the large number of experiments we conducted, the
main text will describe each of the 25 experiments in general terms
and report only the primary analyses for the comparison between
perspective taking and control conditions. The Supplemental Ma-
terials describe details for each experiment including additional
conditions, measures, and secondary analyses. All data are publi-
cally available online (https://osf.io/4k7tv/).
We divide our experiments into three groups. The first group
(Experiments 1–15) includes standard interpersonal accuracy tests
between strangers taken largely from the existing experimental
literature that could be affected by perspective taking based on
current theorizing. The second group (Experiments 16 –24) in-
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
550 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
cludes more naturalistic tests between people who were familiar with
each other, or who had meaningful information about another per-
son’s potentially unique perspective. In these cases, someone engag-
ing in perspective taking might have more information about another
person’s perspective to guide their thinking and might therefore
benefit more from considering another person’s perspective. These
relationships included romantic partners, friends, spouses, or strangers
following a get-acquainted conversation who were trying to predict
another person’s attitudes, preferences, or beliefs in a variety of
different domains. Because each of these experiments included a
comparison between a perspective taking condition and a control
condition, we report the primary results from these two sets of
experiments in two meta-analyses (plus a meta-analysis of all exper-
iments in the General Discussion). We report additional experiment-
specific analyses in the Supplemental Materials.
A final experiment (Experiment 25) compares perspective tak-
ing to a more direct approach to increasing accuracy, which we
refer to as perspective getting (see also Zhou, Majka, & Epley,
2017). This experiment demonstrates that it is indeed possible to
increase interpersonal accuracy, tests the degree to which people
are aware of the effectiveness of different prediction strategies, and
suggests a subtle distinction that is critical for both scientific
theorizing about the consequences of perspective taking and for
attempting to understand the mind of another person more accu-
rately in everyday life.
Experiments 1–15: Standard Tests of
Interpersonal Accuracy
Participants completed standard tests that assess people’s ability
to determine others’ mental states by viewing their eyes (the Mind
in the Eyes Test, Baron-Cohen, et al., 2001), facial expressions
(DANVA-faces, Nowicki & Duke, 1994; Fake Smiles, Bernstein,
et al., 2010), or body postures (DANVA-postures; Nowicki &
Duke, 1994). Participants also completed a test of lie detection
using a standard experimental procedure. We chose commonly
used tests from the existing interpersonal accuracy literature (e.g.,
Bernstein et al., 2010;Castelli et al., 2010;Galinsky, Magee, Inesi,
& Gruenfeld, 2006;Nowicki & Duke, 1994;Ruben & Hall, 2013;
Van Doesum, Van Lange, & Van Lange, 2013).
Participants were randomly assigned to one of several different
conditions across these experiments. In each experiment, one
group was asked to take the target’s perspective, following the
standard instructional manipulation used in the existing psycho-
logical literature (e.g., Batson et al., 1997;Galinsky & Moskowitz,
2000). A control group in each experiment received no special
instructions. Other groups across experiments were asked to apply
a different strategy that we selected for a specific theoretical
reason (e.g., encouraging participants to think hard, to mimic the
target’s expressions, to rely on their own feelings or intuitions).
We chose comparison conditions that we believed would help
explain our observed results, either because of patterns we ob-
served in our data (e.g., perspective taking increased effort com-
pared with control, so we encouraged participants in one condition
to think hard) or because of assumptions in the literature about
how perspective taking operates (e.g., via mimicry). We also
included one test that measures egocentrism directly (and con-
founds it with accuracy): a false-belief task (Birch & Bloom,
2007). We included this test simply to confirm, consistent with
past research, that explicit perspective taking can reduce egocen-
tric biases in judgment. It was not included in the meta-analysis on
accuracy because it is confounded with a reduction in egocentrism.
Method
Participants. We sampled participants in Experiments 1–15
(N1476) from a wide range of populations: Undergraduate
students from a non–American university (non–US U.), under-
graduate students from an American university (US U. #1), people
in the community (Community), and MTurk workers (See Table 1
Table 1
Demographics and Meta-Analysis on Manipulation Check for Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions, Experiments 1–15
Experiment Task Location (N) Mean age
#of
women Control
PT: Other’s
shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
1 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 23.23 (1.46) 46 4.14 (1.58) 5.55 (.99) 1.07 .28 .52 1.63 3.79 .001
2 DANVA Postures Non-US U. (124) 23.42 (1.65) 81 5.03 (1.45) 5.38 (1.28) .26 .18 .10 .61 1.42 .156
3 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (62) 23.78 (2.07) 72 5.19 (1.72) 5.45 (.85) .19 .26 .31 .69 .75 .452
4 DANVA Faces US U. #1 (88) 19.91 (3.01) 5.29 (2.91) 7.44 (1.89) .87 .22 .44 1.31 3.91 .001
5 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (80) 23.00 (.91) 72 5.03 (1.54) 5.55 (1.24) .37 .23 .07 .81 1.65 .099
6 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (61) 24.80 (1.69) 33 4.61 (1.84) 5.77 (94.) .79 .27 .27 1.31 2.97 .003
7 DANVA Faces MTurk (109) 29.61 (9.34) 33 6.74 (2.66) 8.62 (2.32) .75 .20 .36 1.14 3.79 .001
8 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 24.19 (1.73) 33 4.89 (1.47) 5.69 (1.31) .57 .27 .04 1.10 2.12 .034
9 Mind in the Eyes Non-US. U (76) 24.77 (4.36) 39 5.24 (1.15) 5.63 (94.) .37 .23 .08 .83 1.61 .109
10 Mind in the Eyes Non-US. U (37) 25.11 (1.87) 21 5.42 (90.) 5.94 (73.) .63 .34 .03 1.29 1.88 .060
11 Mind in the Eyes Community (85) 38.35 (14.87) 7.64 (1.99) 8.19 (.207) .27 .22 .16 .70 1.24 .217
11 DANVA Faces Community (84) 38.35 (14.87) 6.02 (2.29) 7.24 (2.17) .55 .22 .11 .98 2.48 .013
12 Fake Smiles Community (70) 33.93 (13.09) 36 6.61 (2.60) 7.56 (1.85) .42 .24 .06 .89 1.73 .083
13 Fake Smiles Community (61) 34.52 (13.47) 33 6.39 (2.57) 7.13 (2.36) .30 .26 .21 .80 1.16 .245
14 Fake Smiles Non-US U. (55) 23.16 (1.53) 41 7.11 (2.52) 8.14 (1.11) .53 .27 .01 1.07 1.94 .052
15 Detecting Lies Community (81) 39.46 (15.32) 40 7.20 (2.53) 7.83 (2.00) .28 .22 .16 .71 1.24 .217
Total .49 .06 .37 .62 7.90 .001
Note. Participants made their ratings on a 7-point scale in Experiments 1–3, 5, 6, and 8 –10 and on an 11-point scale in Experiments 4, 7, and 11–15.
Participants did not report their gender in Experiments 4 and 11.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
551
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
for sample sizes and demographics for each experiment). Our first
experiments targeted sample sizes of typically 30 participants per
cell, but we used larger sample sizes in later experiments to test the
robustness of a null result. The only exception for this rule is a
sample of 37 participants in Experiment 10 for which we stopped
data collection before completion due to technical problems, and
include it here for the sake of completeness. We sought to maxi-
mize power by running multiple experiments with varied samples
all utilizing the same experimental manipulation of perspective
taking. We present results only for the perspective taking and
control conditions in the main text (N1103). Results of other
conditions are presented in the Supplemental Materials.
Interpersonal accuracy measures. Participants completed
the experiments individually in a laboratory, except for Experi-
ment 7 that was conducted online. To measure interpersonal ac-
curacy, participants completed standard tests in which they were
asked to identify people’s feelings, thoughts, and intentions by
watching a target’s picture or video. All participants completed
one test, except for Experiment 11 in which participants completed
both the DANVA-faces and the Mind in the Eye Test, Experiments
4, 5, and 8 in which participants completed the DANVA-faces and
the false-belief task, and Experiment 13 in which participants
completed both the Spot the Fake Smiles Test and the false-belief
task. All tasks were computerized, except for the false-belief task.
We describe each test below.
Diagnostic analysis of nonverbal accuracy (DANVA, Now-
icki & Duke, 1994). We used two subtests of the DANVA: faces
and postures. The DANVA consists of 24 pictures of male and
female faces (Experiments 1, 3– 8, 11) or body postures (Experi-
ment 2) expressing one of four basic emotions: happiness, sadness,
anger, or fear. Participants indicated the emotion the person in the
picture feels.
Reading the mind in the eye (ME, Baron-Cohen et al., 2001,
Experiments 9 –11). This test consists of 36 black and white
pictures of the area around the eyes of males and females. The
actual task was preceded by one practice trial. Participants indi-
cated which of 4 words (e.g., serious, ashamed, alarmed, bewil-
dered) described what the person in the picture was thinking or
feeling.
Spot the fake smile (Experiments 12–14). This task was
obtained from the BBC science website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/
science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles) and has been used pre-
viously in experiments (e.g., Bernstein et al., 2010). The test
consists of 20 videos, approximately 4 seconds long, showing an
individual (13 men and 7 women) with an initially neutral expres-
sion that shifts into a smiling expression and then returns to a
neutral expression (10 Duchenne and 10 non-Duchenne smiles of
20 different models trained to activate the Zygomaticus muscles
involved in genuine smiles or not). For each video, participants
indicated whether the smile was genuine or fake. Each video was
shown only once.
Lie detection (Experiment 15). We created this task based on
a standard procedure for testing lie detection in the existing ex-
perimental literature (Bond & DePaulo, 2006). This test consisted
of 10 videos of individuals (6 men and 4 women) answering a
question posed by a research assistant about their experiences and
preferences (e.g., “What is your happiest childhood memory?
Please describe it briefly,” “What celebrity would you most like to
meet? What would you say to them?”). Following the video,
participants were reminded of the question the participant in the
video was asked and then indicated whether they thought the
answer was true or false. The order of videos was fixed. Half of
the answers were true and half were false.
False-belief task (Experiments 4 –5, 8, 13). To test whether
perspective taking reliably reduces egocentric biases in judgment,
consistent with considerable amounts of prior research, we used a
modified version of the false-belief task designed by Birch and
Bloom (2007). Participants were handed two pictures, one at a
time. The first picture portrayed a girl playing the violin beside a
sofa. There were four containers in different sizes and colors (red,
purple, blue, and green) in front of her. Participants read: “This is
Vicki. She finishes playing her violin and puts it in the blue
container. Then she goes outside to play.” The second picture
portrayed a different girl holding a violin beside a different array
of the same containers. Participants read: “While Vicki is outside
playing, her sister, Denise, moves the violin to the red container.
Then, Denise rearranges the containers in the room until the room
looks like the picture below.” Participants indicated the likelihood
that Vicki would first look for her violin in each of the four
containers. The percentage participants assign to the red box is an
indication of egocentrism, because participants know that the
violin has been moved to the red box but Vicki in the scenario does
not know this.
Independent variables. Each experiment included a perspec-
tive taking condition and a control condition in which participants
were given no specific instructions. This served as our primary
comparison in each experiment, and the focus of this paper. Seven
experiments included additional conditions that tested the impact
of other strategies. We added these additional conditions based on
the results of our initial experiments that found a negative impact
of perspective taking on accuracy. Because they did not yield very
meaningful insights, we will describe these conditions briefly in
the main text and present them in detail in the Supplemental
Materials. Participants in each condition received a brief descrip-
tion of the experimental task, and then were given additional
instructions depending on their experimental condition.
Perspective taking conditions. Our primary manipulation
asked participants to engage in perspective taking using instruc-
tions taken from the existing literature (e.g., Batson et al., 1997;
Galinsky & Moskowitz, 2000). In particular, participants in the
perspective taking conditions read: “While watching the pictures
[videos], please think about the person in the picture [video]. Try
to adopt the perspective of the person in the picture [video] as if
you were the person who is answering the question. Do your best
to adopt his or her perspective, putting yourself into the other
person’s shoes as if you were that person. Remember that the
person in the picture [video] may have a different perspective than
you do as the viewer of the picture [video].” The perspective
taking instructions for the false-belief task (Experiments 4, 5, 8,
13) were adapted to fit details of the task: “When answering the
question, we would like you to do your best to adopt Vicki’s
perspective, putting yourself into Vicki’s shoes as if you were her.
Remember that Vicki may have a different perspective than you
do.”
Additional conditions. Our initial results from Experiments 1
and 2 suggested that perspective taking might diminish accuracy.
We therefore introduced several additional conditions across ex-
periments to explore this potential negative effect in more detail.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
552 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
These included instructions to consult one’s own feelings (Exper-
iment 3), to think especially hard (Experiment 3), to rely on one’s
intuitions (Experiments 4, 14), to personally display the facial
expressions posed in the pictures before guessing the emotions
expressed (Experiment 6), to empathize with the person in each
photo (Experiment 7), to consider similarities or differences (Ex-
periment 8), to predict how most people would answer the question
(Experiment 11), and to mimic the target’s facial expressions while
observing each picture (Experiment 13). None of these conditions
significantly increased accuracy compared with the control condi-
tion, but two conditions significantly decreased accuracy com-
pared with the control condition (consult one’s own feelings in
Experiment 3 and follow your intuition in Experiment 4). These
experimental conditions did not prove to be especially informative.
We therefore highlight notable findings from these additional
conditions in the General Discussion and report these results in full
in the Supplemental Materials.
Additional measures. We also collected several additional
measures to provide further tests of reliable consequences of
perspective taking:
Manipulation check. Participants completed a manipulation
check to assess how hard they tried to adopt the other person’s
perspective. We used a 7-point scale (1 not at all,7very
much) in Experiments 1–3, 5, 6, and 8 –10. We used an 11-point
scale (1 not at all,11extremely) in Experiments 4, 7, and
11–15. Participants in some experiments completed additional
manipulation checks consistent with the conditions we added to
our basic perspective taking versus control comparison. These are
described in the Supplemental Materials.
Difficulty. Participants reported how difficult they found the
task to be. We used a 7-point scale (1 not at all,7very much)
in Experiments 1–3, 5, 6, and 8 –10 and an 11-point scale (1 not
at all,7extremely) in Experiments 4, 7, and 11–15.
Response times. We measured participants’ response times to
complete the computerized tasks in all but Experiment 7 to provide
an indirect measure of mental effort (with more time indicating
more effort expended).
Confidence. Participants reported their confidence in judg-
ment by indicating the number of responses they thought they
predicted accurately. In Experiments 12–14, participants rated how
confident they were with their answer after every one of the 20
predictions they made (1 just guessing,11absolutely certain)
and we computed an average confidence score.
Results
Meta-analyses. Our primary interest was testing whether per-
spective taking increases interpersonal accuracy. To ease presen-
tation of such a large number of experimental results, we present
only the primary comparisons between the perspective taking and
control conditions on our primary outcomes: the manipulation
check, accuracy, confidence, perceived difficulty, and response
times. Because the experiments were run on diverse populations
and used different tests of interpersonal accuracy, we conducted
random effects meta-analyses using the Comprehensive Meta-
analysis 2 software (Borenstein, Hedges, Higgins, & Rothstein,
2010) to identify the robust effects across all experiments. We did
not observe reliable gender differences on accuracy or the impact
of perspective taking in these 15 experiments, or those we report
in the remainder of this paper. We therefore do not discuss gender
differences further.
1
Manipulation checks. Participants seemed to do as they were
instructed. Those in the perspective taking conditions reported
considering others’ perspective more than those in the control
conditions across Experiments 1–15, d0.49, 95% CI [0.37,
0.62], z7.90, p.001 (see Table 1). This significant result is
important for understanding the consequences of perspective tak-
ing on accuracy that we discuss next, because it demonstrates that
participants were indeed attempting to follow the critical experi-
mental manipulation.
Accuracy. Participants in the perspective taking conditions
were not significantly more accurate across Experiments 1–15 than
participants in the control conditions. In fact, participants in the
perspective taking conditions were significantly less accurate over-
all than participants in the control conditions, d⫽⫺0.26, 95% CI
[0.40, 0.12], z⫽⫺3.74, p.001. As can be seen in Table 2,
this negative effect of perspective taking on accuracy, compared
with the control conditions, was not especially robust across indi-
vidual experiments. It was statistically significant in 4 of 17
instances, but even these 4 significant results were not reliable
across replications of the same procedure.
2
The Fake Smiles Test,
for instance, produced one of the five significant negative effects
of perspective taking on accuracy (Experiments 12), but one rep-
lication yielded a significant result in the opposite direction (Ex-
periment 13). Although these experiments do not provide espe-
cially reliable evidence that perspective taking systematically
1
We observed significant gender effects in only four of these 25 exper-
iments, and even these effects were inconsistent across experiments. In
Experiment 5 we observed a significant gender perspective taking
interaction, F(1,71) 4.05, p.048, p
2.05. There was a marginally
significant gender effect in the perspective taking condition—women were
more accurate than men, (Ms 17.58 and 13.50, t(38) 1.84, p.078,
d0.60), but no gender effect in the control condition (Ms 18.82 and
19.50, t(38) ⫽⫺0.62, p.54, d⫽⫺0.20). This difference might be
driven by the small number of men compared with women in this sample
(8 vs. 72). In Experiment 7 we observed a marginally significant main
effect for gender such that women were more accurate than men (Ms
19.98 and 19.15), F(1,155) 21.40, p.072, p
2.02. In Experiment 20
there was a Marginally Significant Gender Perspective Taking Interac-
tion, F(1, 81) 3.58, p.062, p
2.04. Women were more accurate than
men in the perspective taking condition (Ms 1.13 and 1.38, t(38) 1.74,
p.090, d0.56) but not in the control condition (Ms 1.20 and 1.11,
t(43) ⫽⫺0.80, p.43, d⫽⫺0.24). Finally, in Experiment 21 there was
a marginally significant main effect for gender, F(1, 85) 3.61, p.061,
p
2.04, but this effect was qualified by a Significant Gender Perspec-
tive Taking Interaction, F(1, 85) 6.08, p.016, p
2.07. Women were
more accurate than men in the perspective taking condition (Ms 2.13 and
2.68, t(42) 3.09, p.004, d0.95) but not in the control condition
(Ms 2.19 and 2.12, t(43) ⫽⫺0.40, p.69, d⫽⫺0.12). Given that we
observed no reliable gender differences across our experiments, we do not
discuss it further.
2
We conducted heterogeneity tests to examine whether the effect sizes
for accuracy obtained in the meta-analyses are more variable than expected
from normal sampling variation. We obtained nonsignificant effects of
heterogeneity in Experiments 1-15, Q(15) 21.07, p.14, I
2
28.80,
Experiments 16-24, Q(12) 14.88, p.25, I
2
19.34, and also in all 25
experiments, Q(29) 38.27, p.12, I
2
24.23, indicating that dispersion
in the effects of perspective taking on accuracy across experiments is not
due to real differences in the experiments other than random error.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
553
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
decreases accuracy, they provide no evidence whatsoever that
perspective taking systematically increases accuracy.
3
Perceived difficulty and response times. Those in the per-
spective taking conditions reported that their task was more diffi-
cult than those in the control conditions across Experiments 1–15,
d0.16, 95% CI [0.04, 0.27], z2.69, p.007 (see Table 3).
Participants in the perspective taking conditions were also slower
in their responses compared with participants in the control con-
ditions, d0.40, 95% CI [0.28, 0.52], z6.50, p.001 (see
Table 4). Results on these two measures, along with the manipu-
lation check, suggest that participants in the perspective taking
conditions were indeed trying harder to consider another person’s
perspective than participants in the control conditions.
Confidence and overconfidence. Not only were participants
in the perspective taking condition less accurate, they also believed
they predicted fewer of their partner’s responses accurately com-
pared with participants in the control conditions across Experi-
ments 1–15, d⫽⫺0.20, 95% CI [0.32, 0.09], z⫽⫺3.48, p
.001 (see Table 5). This negative effect of perspective taking on
confidence may be because participants had no knowledge about
the targets they tried to mind read that they could use when
encouraged to take their perspective, beyond the minimal infor-
mation that appeared in the picture or video.
Having both accuracy and predicted accuracy measures al-
lows us to calculate whether participants were systematically
overconfident in their evaluations. To assess overconfidence,
we subtracted the number of accurate responses from the pre-
dicted number of accurate responses. Overall, participants were
underconfident in their performance on these measures,
d⫽⫺0.17, 95% CI [0.30, 0.03], z⫽⫺2.39, p.017. This
was the case in all experiments but one (Experiment 15), in
which participants were significantly overconfident, d0.80,
95% CI [0.55, 1.05], z6.27, p.001. In addition, perspec-
tive taking did not significantly affect overconfidence,
d⫽⫺0.03, 95% CI [0.14, 0.09], z⫽⫺0.45, p.65.
Reducing egocentrism: The false-belief test. Consistent
with prior research, perspective taking reliably decreased egocen-
tric biases in the four experiments that included the false-belief
task (see Table 6). Perspective taking participants indicated that it
was significantly less likely for the protagonist to look in the
location suggested by an egocentric perspective than participants
in the control condition, d⫽⫺0.28, 95% CI [0.51, 0.05],
z⫽⫺2.35, p.019.
Discussion
In a series of 15 experiments, using standard tests of interper-
sonal accuracy, an explicit instruction to engage in perspective
taking reliably altered judgments in a manner consistent with the
explicit instruction to shift perspective from their own to another’s
perspective. Consistent with past research (Todd et al., 2012), this
shift in perspective leads to more deliberation reflected in our
studies by increased response time and greater perceived difficulty.
This reliable shift in perspective, however, does not systematically
increase accuracy except in cases where egocentrism and accuracy
are necessarily confounded (such as in the false-belief task). These
findings suggest that the benefits of perspective taking for increas-
ing accuracy may be very circumscribed, increasing accuracy only
when an egocentric bias is known to be producing error.
3
In Experiments 12–14 (Fake Smiles Test) and Experiment 15 (Lie
Detection) we also computed accuracy using a detection theory sensitivity
measure (d-prime, representing the difference between the proportion of
hits and false alarms). The analyses yielded similar results to those ob-
tained perspective taking effects on number of correct responses. In Ex-
periments 12 and 14 the d-prime was directionally lower in the PT
condition compared with control (Experiment 12: t(68) ⫽⫺1.28, p.204;
Experiment 14: t(53) ⫽⫺0.70, p.485. In Experiment 13 the d-prime
was significantly higher in the PT condition compared with control,
t(59) ⫽⫺2.62, p.011. For the Lie Detection Test (Experiment 15)
perspective taking did not have an effect on d-prime, t(79) 0.53, p.60.
Table 2
Meta-Analysis on Accuracy (Number of Correct Responses) for Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions, Experiments 1–15
Experiment Task Location (N) Control
PT: Other’s
shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
1 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 19.14 (2.29) 17.89 (2.41) .53 .27 1.06 .00 1.97 .049
2 DANVA Postures Non-US U. (124) 16.54 (2.55) 15.94 (2.35) .25 .18 .60 .11 1.36 .174
3 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (62) 18.48 (2.71) 17.74 (2.75) .27 .26 .77 .23 1.06 .288
4 DANVA Faces US U. #1 (88) 18.89 (2.17) 17.91 (2.74) .40 .22 .82 .02 1.86 .065
5 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (80) 18.93 (2.47) 17.38 (3.14) .55 .23 1.00 .10 2.41 .016
6 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (61) 19.52 (1.63) 18.40 (2.81) .49 .26 1.00 .02 1.88 .060
7 DANVA Faces MTurk (109) 19.75 (1.95) 19.06 (3.20) .26 .19 .64 .11 1.37 .172
8 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 18.38 (2.67) 18.17 (3.02) .07 .27 .59 .45 .28 .781
9 Mind in the Eyes Non-US U. (76) 23.60 (4.02) 22.58 (3.60) .27 .23 .72 .18 1.16 .246
10 Mind in the Eyes Non-US U. (37) 25.42 (4.77) 24.83 (4.56) .13 .33 .77 .52 .38 .701
11 Mind in the Eyes Community (85) 25.11 (4.46) 23.65 (5.58) .04 .22 .46 .39 .16 .873
11 DANVA Faces Community (84) 18.24 (2.43) 18.14 (3.27) .29 .22 .72 .14 1.32 .188
12 Fake Smiles Community (70) 13.72 (2.17) 12.24 (2.09) .69 .25 1.18 .21 2.82 .005
13 Fake Smiles Community (61) 12.42 (2.93) 14.13 (2.54) .62 .26 .11 1.14 2.38 .018
14 Fake Smiles Non-US U. (55) 13.63 (2.31) 12.68 (2.04) .44 .27 .97 .10 1.60 .110
15 Detecting Lies Community (81) 4.93 (1.62) 4.80 (1.51) .08 .22 .52 .35 .37 .709
Total .26 .07 .40 .12 3.74 .001
Note. There are 24 items in DANVA, 36 items in the Mind in the Eyes, 20 items in the Fake Smiles, and 10 items in Detecting Lies.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
554 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
Experiment 1–15 tested the impact of perspective taking on inter-
personal accuracy using standardized measures of interpersonal ac-
curacy taken from the existing experimental literature. Although both
existing theory and intuition (as indicated by our pretest) suggest that
perspective taking could increase accuracy on these tests, our exper-
iments indicate that perspective taking increased mental effort and
decreased egocentrism but did not reliably increase accurate insight
into the mind of another person. These standardized tests enable
precise and reliable accuracy measurement, but they are also ab-
stracted from everyday life in a way that makes it difficult to take the
perspective of the targets being evaluated. For instance, participants
knew nothing about the targets or about the thoughts, feelings, atti-
tudes, or context that targets were actually in. Perspective taking
might have been especially ineffective in these contexts because there
was no unique information that participants could access when they
shifted attention to the targets’ perspective. We next explore whether
the weak negative relationship between perspective taking and accu-
racy generalizes to more naturalistic contexts.
Experiments 16 –24: Naturalistic Tests of
Interpersonal Accuracy
Experiments 16 –24 tested the impact of perspective taking on
interpersonal accuracy using judgments that people are more likely
to make in everyday life, including predictions of others’ sense of
humor, opinions, and preferences. They also involved predictions
Table 3
Meta-Analysis on Perceived Difficulty for Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions, Experiments 1–15
Experiment Task Location (N) Control PT: Other’s shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
1 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 2.79 (1.55) 3.24 (1.83) .27 .27 .26 .79 1.00 .319
2 DANVA Postures Non-US U. (124) 3.56 (1.43) 3.46 (1.55) .07 .18 .42 .29 .37 .709
3 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (62) 3.35 (1.79) 3.65 (1.58) .18 .26 .32 .68 .70 .485
4 DANVA Faces US U. #1 (88) 5.20 (2.38) 5.51 (2.00) .14 .21 .28 .56 .66 .510
5 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (80) 2.78 (1.33) 3.60 (1.41) .60 .23 .15 1.05 2.62 .009
6 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (61) 2.74 (1.63) 3.50 (1.53) .48 .26 .03 .99 1.85 .064
7 DANVA Faces MTurk (109) 4.23 (2.40) 4.63 (2.38) .17 .19 .21 .54 .87 .384
8 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 2.86 (1.41) 3.21 (1.54) .24 .27 .28 .76 .89 .373
9 Mind in the Eyes Non-US U. (76) 3.84 (1.41) 4.03 (1.67) .12 .23 .33 .57 .54 .592
10 Mind in the Eyes Non-US U. (37) 3.84 (1.43) 4.33 (1.68) .32 .33 .33 .96 .95 .341
11 Mind in the Eyes Community (85) 6.79 (2.20) 7.09 (2.40) .13 .22 .30 .56 .59 .555
11 DANVA Faces Community (84) 5.52 (2.11) 5.50 (2.30) .01 .22 .43 .42 .04 .967
12 Fake Smiles Community (70) 6.14 (2.36) 6.59 (2.12) .20 .24 .28 .68 .83 .409
13 Fake Smiles Community (61) 6.81 (2.27) 6.50 (2.30) .14 .30 .72 .45 .45 .649
14 Fake Smiles Non-US U. (55) 6.52 (2.17) 6.75 (2.19) .11 .28 .45 .66 .38 .707
15 Detecting Lies Community (81) 7.59 (2.10) 7.68 (2.19) .04 .22 .39 .48 .19 .850
Total .16 .06 .04 .27 2.69 .007
Note. Participants made their ratings on a 7-point scale in Experiments 1–3, 5, 6, and 8 –10 and on an 11-point scale in Experiments 4, 7, and 11–15.
Table 4
Meta-Analysis on Response Times for Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions, Experiments 1–15
Experiment Task Location (N) Control PT: Other’s shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
1 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 78.95 (21.35) 102.37 (37.50) .76 .27 .23 1.30 2.78 .005
2 DANVA Postures Non-US U. (124) 101.17 (45.36) 122.23 (52.48) .43 .18 .07 .79 2.36 .018
3 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (62) 91.53 (42.59) 126.43 (71.32) .59 .26 .09 1.10 2.29 .022
4 DANVA Faces US U. #1 (88) 63.64 (12.59) 91.14 (45.94) .83 .22 .39 1.26 3.71 .001
5 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (80) 115.67 (48.30) 142.89 (55.37) .52 .23 .08 .97 2.30 .021
6 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (61) 76.65 (19.72) 76.71 (23.97) .00 .26 .50 .51 .01 .991
8 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 93.47 (32.28) 109.62 (38.32) .46 .27 .07 .98 1.70 .089
9 Mind in the Eyes Non-US U. (76) 263.42 (83.01) 288.11 (126.01) .23 .23 .22 .68 1.01 .315
10 Mind in the Eyes Non-US U. (37) 251.88 (87.60) 279.32 (89.23) .31 .33 .34 .96 .94 .348
11 Mind in the Eyes Community (85) 133.96 (42.91) 143.32 (54.25) .19 .22 .24 .62 .88 .382
11 DANVA Faces Community (85) 102.01 (32.45) 121.33 (42.88) .51 .22 .08 .94 2.30 .021
12 Fake Smiles Community (70) 154.87 (21.02) 161.28 (23.78) .29 .24 .19 .76 1.19 .234
13 Fake Smiles Community (61) 159.27 (21.21) 163.98 (31.12) .18 .26 .33 .68 .69 .489
14 Fake Smiles Non-US U. (55) 191.41 (59.15) 200.42 (53.54) .16 .27 .37 .69 .59 .554
15 Detecting Lies Community (81) 27.05 (12.28) 35.30 (23.71) .44 .23 .00 .88 1.95 .051
Total .40 .06 .28 .52 6.50 .001
Note. We report the sum of the response times in seconds across the task. We did not measure response time in Experiment 7.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
555
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
of actual interaction partners. Some involved evaluations of targets
who were generally well known to our participants, such as a
friend or spouse, and others involved evaluations of strangers after
a brief get-to-know-you activity. These experiments involved con-
texts where participants were likely to have at least some knowl-
edge of their partners’ preferences, either because of existing
relationship knowledge (e.g., a spouse’s preferences for going
bowling or doing dishes) or group-based stereotype knowledge
(e.g., a male or female partner’s reactions to movies, videos, or
jokes targeted toward a stereotypically male or female audience).
Each experiment used a perspective taking manipulation similar
to those in Experiments 1–15, and several provided instructions
asking participants to take their target’s perspective in a somewhat
different way. These variants allowed us to test whether our results
were restricted to simply the most common experimental approach
for encouraging perspective taking. Finally, all experiments except
for Experiments 21 and 24 included an “egocentric” condition in
which participants were asked to assume that the other person
perceived the world exactly as they did themselves. This condition
could provide a more extreme test of whether or not considering
another’s perspective increases accuracy by including a condition
that does precisely the opposite. Because this is not our primary
focus, we briefly discuss these results in the General Discussion
and present these results in full in the Supplemental Materials.
Method
Participants. One thousand, one hundred thirty-two individ-
uals participated in Experiments 16 –24. Participants were under-
graduates from an American university (US U. #2), MBA students,
and people in the community, from two locations (Community #1,
Community #2; see Table 7 for sample sizes and demographics for
each experiment). Targeted sample sizes were typically 30 partic-
ipants per cell, but we increased our samples sizes in subsequent
versions of our experiments to test the robustness of a null result.
We made seven exclusions from the analyses: three participants
received the wrong verbal instructions (Experiment 16), three
participants did not have a partner (Experiment 21), and one
Table 5
Meta-Analysis on Confidence (Predicted Number of Correct Responses) for Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions,
Experiments 1–15
Experiment Task Location (N) Control
PT: Other’s
shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
1 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 17.75 (2.78) 17.17 (3.58) .18 .27 .70 .34 .68 .496
2 DANVA Postures Non-US U. (124) 16.48 (3.86) 15.97 (3.91) .13 .18 .48 .22 .73 .465
3 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (62) 17.61 (3.99) 16.39 (3.79) .31 .26 .81 .19 1.23 .220
4 DANVA Faces US U. #1 (88) 17.31 (4.21) 16.23 (4.02) .26 .21 .68 .16 1.22 .221
5 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (80) 18.38 (3.26) 16.83 (4.31) .41 .23 .85 .04 1.80 .073
6 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (61) 18.77 (2.49) 18.07 (3.05) .25 .26 .76 .25 .98 .327
7 DANVA Faces MTurk (109) 19.33 (3.13) 18.04 (3.31) .40 .19 .78 .02 2.07 .038
8 DANVA Faces Non-US U. (57) 18.68 (2.53) 17.24 (3.93) .44 .27 .96 .09 1.63 .103
9 Mind in the Eyes Non-US U. (76) 23.11 (5.78) 21.59 (6.15) .26 .23 .71 .20 1.11 .269
10 Mind in the Eyes Non-US U. (37) 25.37 (5.69) 22.39 (5.87) .52 .33 1.17 .14 1.54 .123
11 Mind in the Eyes Community (85) 21.40 (7.45) 21.16 (6.12) .04 .22 .46 .39 .16 .871
11 DANVA Faces Community (84) 16.81 (3.90) 17.27 (4.18) .11 .22 .31 .54 .52 .602
12 Fake Smiles Community (70) 12.88 (3.26) 11.41 (4.43) .38 .24 .85 .09 1.57 .116
13 Fake Smiles Community (61) 12.17 (4.28) 10.91 (5.12) .27 .27 .80 .26 .98 .325
14 Fake Smiles Non-US U. (55) 11.98 (3.65) 11.43 (3.00) .16 .26 .67 .34 .64 .522
15 Detecting Lies Community (81) 6.39 (1.72) 6.95 (1.69) .33 .22 .11 .77 1.47 .142
Total .20 .06 .32 .09 3.48 .001
Note. There are 24 items in DANVA, 36 items in the Mind in the Eyes, 20 items in the Fake Smiles, and 10 items in Detecting Lies.
Table 6
Meta-Analysis on the Mean Ratings of the Likelihood That Vickie Will Search in the Red Box First in the False-Belief Task for
Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions, Experiments 1–15
Experiment Location (N) Control PT: Other’s shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
4 US U. #1 (88) 20.62 (23.87) 16.90 (20.51) .17 .22 .59 .26 .78 .438
5 Non-US U. (80) 38.79 (29.03) 27.55 (22.19) .88 .23 .88 .01 1.92 .054
8 Non-US U. (57) 36.30 (30.93) 30.25 (26.26) .21 .27 .73 .31 .79 .428
13 Community (61) 27.13 (28.54) 19.61 (19.64) .31 .26 .82 .20 1.18 .237
Total .28 .12 .51 .05 2.35 .019
Note. Larger percentages indicate smaller egocentric bias. Thus, a negative sign of d indicates smaller egocentric bias in perspective taking condition
compared to control.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
556 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
Table 7
Demographics and Meta-Analysis on Accuracy (Absolute Difference Between Predicted Responses and Actual Responses) for Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions,
Experiments 16 –24
Experiment Task Location (N)
#of
women
Length of
relationship
(months) Mean age Control
PT: Other’s
shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
16 Activities (partners) Community #1 (74) 37 103.18 (108.31) 32.65 (9.17) 1.21 (.31) 1.15 (.34) .17 .23 .63 .29 .74 .461
17 Activities (partners) Community #1 (66) 33 133.70 (107.80) 37.06 (12.18) 1.13 (.26) 1.33 (.44) .57 .25 .08 1.07 2.28 .023
18 Movies (strangers) US U. #2 (80) 41 20.25 (1.65) 1.03 (.31) 1.20 (.41) .49 .23 .05 .93 2.16 .031
19 Jokes (strangers) Community #2 (78) 39 28.71 (11.35) 1.24 (.40) 1.46 (.50) .47 .23 .02 .92 2.06 .039
20 Videos (strangers) US U. #2 (85) 46 20.12 (1.57) 1.16 (.37) 1.26 (.48) .24 .22 .19 .66 1.08 .281
21 Art (strangers) US U. #2 (92) 42 20.12 (1.81) 2.15 (.59) 2.31 (.64) .26 .21 .15 .67 1.24 .214
22 Opinions (partners) Community #2 (82) 42 101.79 (117.44) 35.28 (11.68) 1.56 (.35) 1.52 (.42) .10 .22 .53 .34 .43 .664
23 Opinions (partners) Community #2 (80) 38 131.84 (151.97) 38.81 (14.00) 1.71 (.50) 1.71 (.36) .01 .23 .45 .44 .02 .984
23 Opinions (strangers) Community #2 (79) 37 38.57 (13.93) 1.97 (.42) 1.98 (.38) .02 .23 .43 .46 .08 .938
24
Performance appraisal simulation
Burke’s chance MBA (101) 21.08 (16.60) 27.89 (19.05) .38 .20 .02 .78 1.89 .059
24
Performance appraisal simulation
Stanley’s chance MBA (101) 22.04 (17.53) 24.92 (22.30) .14 .20 .25 .54 .72 .475
24
Performance appraisal simulation
Burke’s impression MBA (101) 1.89 (1.62) 1.67 (1.68) .13 .20 .53 .26 .67 .506
24
Performance appraisal simulation
Stanley’s impression MBA (101) 1.92 (1.91) 2.04 (1.70) .07 .20 .33 .46 .33 .740
Total .16 .07 .03 .30 2.44 .015
Note. Larger absolute differences indicate less accuracy. In Experiment 24 participants did not report their age and gender.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
557
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
participant’s predictions of a stranger because he or she predicted
the preferences of a hypothetical stranger (Experiment 23). We
were also unable to calculate accuracy in 24 instances: 10 in-
stances in which participants did not make predictions or their
partners did not report own responses (Experiments 16, 19, 22, and
23) and 14 instances in which we could not match participants to
a partner because they mis-entered their Participant ID or because
they were part of a triplet and it was unclear whose preferences
they predicted (Experiment 20). Additionally, we could not calcu-
late correlational accuracy in nine instances in which participants
or their partners gave the same response to all items (Experiments
19 and 20). We present results only for the perspective taking and
control conditions in the main text (N825), as we did for
Experiments 1–15.
Participants completed each experimental session in pairs where
each person served as both a “predictor” and a “target.” The pairs
varied in their relationship status across experiments. Some were
romantic partners (Experiments 16, 17, and 22), and others were
strangers who had a short introductory conversation (Experiments
18 –21, and 24). Pairs were strangers of the opposite sex in Experi-
ments 19 and 20, and included both heterosexual romantic partners
and strangers of the opposite sex in Experiment 23. There were a few
exceptions to these rules: four participants were not of the opposite
gender and six participants were not strangers (Experiment 19), 34
participants were not of the opposite gender or were part of a triplet
and six participants could not be matched to a partner (Experiment
20), four participants were not romantic partners (Experiment 22),
eight participants predicted a romantic partner who was not of the
opposite gender, two participants predicted someone who was not a
romantic partner, and eight participants predicted a stranger’s prefer-
ences who was not of the opposite gender (Experiment 23). Excluding
these additional participants does not change the results in any mean-
ingful way, and so we report the results with these participants
included.
Materials and procedure. Heterosexual romantic partners
were recruited together in Experiments 16 –17 and 22. Individuals
were recruited separately and paired with a stranger in Experi-
ments 18 –21. Heterosexual romantic partners were recruited to-
gether and paired with another couple that they did not already
know in Experiment 23. Experiments involving pairs of strangers
began with a get-acquainted session in which each participant
introduced himself/herself guided by a series of questions: “Where
are you from?,” “What are you doing in the lab/museum today?,”
and “What are you doing when you are not at the lab/museum?”
Participants in Experiments 16 –23 predicted their partner’s
responses and stated their own responses. Participants in Experi-
ments 18 –20 also predicted the responses of an average man and
an average woman. Participants in Experiments 16, 18 –19, and
22–23 first predicted their partner’s responses for all of the items,
and then stated their own responses for all of the items. We
counterbalanced the order of these ratings in Experiments 17 and
21. Participants in Experiment 20 predicted their partner’s re-
sponses, stated their own responses, predicted the responses of an
average man, and predicted the responses of an average woman for
each item before moving to the next. Participants in Experiment 24
first gave their own impressions based on the role they played and
then predicted their partner’s response based on the partner’s role.
Interpersonal accuracy measures. These experiments as-
sessed interpersonal accuracy on predictions of partners’ responses
to six different judgments: activities, movies, jokes, videos, art,
opinions, and a performance appraisal simulation. We summarize
each task below. All stimuli from questionnaires are publically
available online at https://osf.io/4k7tv/.
Activities (Experiments 16 & 17). Participants rated how
much their partner liked or disliked 37 activities on 7-point scales
(1 dislike very much,4neutral or don’t know,7like very
much) using a measure taken from Swann and Gill (1997; e.g., go
to a bar or a pub, play tennis, visit with family, go bowling, do
dishes).
Movies (Experiment 18). Participants saw posters for 16 mov-
ies targeted for female audiences (e.g., Pretty Woman,Legally
Blonde) or male audiences (e.g., Casino Royale,Transformers).
Participants rated how much they thought their partner would like
each movie on 5-point scales (1 strongly dislike,5strongly
like).
Jokes (Experiment 19). Participants read 12 sexist jokes tar-
geted for female audiences (e.g., “Why are men like strawberries?
Because they take a long time to mature and by the time they do
most are rotten.”) or male audiences (e.g., “What is the difference
between a battery and a woman? A battery has a positive side.”).
Participants rated how funny they thought their partner would rate
each joke on 5-point scales (1 not at all funny,5extremely
funny).
Videos (Experiment 20). Participants watched eight 2–3 min
videos with humorous dating advice targeted for female audiences
(e.g., “How to survive shopping with your boyfriend,”) or male
audiences (e.g., “How to tell her she looks terrible”). Participants
rated how much their partner would like each video on 5-point
scales (1 strongly dislike,5strongly like).
Art (Experiment 21). Participants viewed 18 pieces of art
(paintings and photographs). They rated how much their partner
would like each piece of art on 10-point scales (1 strongly
dislike,10strongly like).
Opinions (Experiments 22 and 23). Participants read 21 opin-
ion statements selected from Consumer Reports (taken from Hoch,
1987; e.g., “I would like to spend a year in London or Paris,” “I
have somewhat old-fashioned tastes and habits,” “Police should
use whatever force is necessary to maintain law and order”). They
predicted how their partner would respond to each statement on
7-point scales (1 strongly disagree,”4neither agree nor
disagree,7strongly agree).
Performance appraisal simulation (Experiment 24). MBA
students were divided into pairs and assigned to the role of a
partner in a firm (Stanley) or a manager being evaluated for
promotion (Burke). In this simulation, Stanley has evaluated all the
managers in the division and is prepared to give Burke his or her
appraisal. Burke is certain that he or she outperforms the other
managers and should be promoted to partnership in the firm.
Stanley believes Burke has many strong points, but he also has
many concerns and estimates Burke has only a 10% chance of
making partner in the next two years. Participants first received 10
min to read one-page long background about the person he or she
was role playing. Each pair then conducted the performance eval-
uation for 20 min. Finally, all participants answered four questions,
according to their role. The first two questions were about their
own impression: (1) “According to the materials you received and
your performance appraisal, what do you think is the likelihood
that you (manager Burke) [your manager Burke] will be promoted
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
558 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
to partner at the end of the next two years?” (2) “What is your
overall impression of yourself (Burke) [of Burke] as a manager?”
Participants then made predictions regarding the thoughts of the
other person: (3) “What do you believe Stanley (the partner) thinks
is the likelihood that you will be promoted to partner at the end of
the next two years [What do you believe Burke thinks is his or her
likelihood of making partner]?” (4) “What do you believe is
Stanley’s (the partner) overall impression of you as a manager
[What do you believe Burke thinks is your overall impression of
him or her as a manager]?” Answers on questions 1 and 3 were
given on a line ending with a % sign. Ratings on questions 2 and
4 were given on an 11-point scale (5very negative,0
neutral,5very positive).
Independent variables. All experiments shared a basic de-
sign of at least a perspective taking condition and a control
condition. All experiments included a perspective taking condition
that encouraged participants to imagine they were the other person
(“partner’s shoes condition”). Two experiments (Experiments 16
and 22) also included an additional perspective taking condition
that encouraged participants to focus on the other person’s
thoughts and feelings (“partner’s perspective condition”). All but
Experiments 21 and 24 also included a condition that encouraged
participants to base their predictions of their partners’ responses on
their own responses (“egocentrism condition,” see Supplemental
Materials).
Control conditions. Participants in Experiments 17–21 and
23–24 were told: “We would like for you to use whatever strategy
you think is best.” Participants in Experiments 16 and 22 received
no instructions about how to predict the other person’s responses.
Perspective taking (partner’s shoes) conditions. Part-
icipants in Experiment 16 (Activities) were told:
When predicting your partner’s responses, it is very important that
you put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Try to envision what your
attitudes toward the following activities would be if you were your
partner. Concentrate on how you would feel about each activity if you
were your partner: i.e., whether you would like to do it or would not
like to do it. Imagine how strongly you would feel. Circle the answers
that best reflect the thoughts and feelings you would have about each
activity if you were your partner.
Participants in Experiments 22 and 23 (Opinions) were told:
When predicting your partner’s responses, it is very important that
you put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Try to envision how you
would react to each of the statements if you were your partner.
Concentrate on what you would think if you were your partner, i.e.,
whether you would agree or disagree with each statement. Imagine
how strongly you would feel. Circle the answers that best reflect the
reactions, thoughts, and feelings you would have if you were your
partner.
Participants in Experiments 17–21 (Activities, Movies, Jokes,
Videos, Art) were told:
When rating how much your partner would like the following [activ-
ities, movies, jokes, video clips pieces of art], it is very important that
you put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Think carefully about what
you know about your partner— consider their personality, their back-
ground, and their tastes. Imagine what they would like and dislike
about each [activity, movie, joke, video clip, piece of art], and
consider how that would influence their ratings of each activity
[movie, joke, video clip, piece of art].
Participants in Experiment 24 (Performance Appraisal Simula-
tion) were told:
Try to adopt Stanley’s perspective (the partner’s perspective) [Burke’s
perspective (the manager’s perspective)] as if you were him or her. Do
your best to put yourself into Stanley’s [Burke’s] shoes, trying to
understand your interaction through Stanley’s [Burke’s] eyes—
considering what Stanley [Burke] is thinking, and what Stanley’s
interests and purposes are. Remember that Stanley [Burke] may have
a different perspective than you do.
Perspective taking (partner’s perspective) conditions. Part-
icipants in Experiment 16 (Activities) were told:
When predicting your partner’s responses, it is very important that
you consider what you know about your partner. The best way to do
that is to think about your partner’s behavior and visible reactions in
the past. Try to think about which activities your partner has engaged
in and how often he/she has engaged in those activities, or in activities
that are similar to the ones below. Concentrate on what your partner
has actually said to you about each activity: i.e. whether he/she has
said that he/she likes to do it or does not like to do it. Circle the
answers that best reflect what you think are your partner’s prefer-
ences, based as much as you can on how your partner has behaved or
responded in the past to these activities or to similar activities.
Participants in Experiment 22 (Opinions) were told:
When predicting your spouse’s responses, it is very important that you
consider your spouse’s perspective. Try to envision his/her reactions
to each of the statements. Concentrate on what your spouse thinks,
i.e., whether your spouse agrees or disagrees with each statement.
Imagine how strongly he/she feels. Circle the answers that best reflect
your spouse’s reactions, thoughts, and feelings.
Additional measures. Lastly, participants answered addi-
tional questions:
Confidence. Participants in all but Experiments 18 and 24
predicted the number of responses they thought they predicted
accurately. This provided us with a measure of participants’ con-
fidence in the accuracy of their predictions.
Difficulty. Participants in Experiments 20, 21, and 23 rated
how easy or difficult it was for them to predict their partner’s
preferences using the strategy they did on a 10-point scale (1
very easy,10very hard).
Measures about the relationship between partners included how
well participants thought they knew their partners, how well they
thought their partners knew them, how long they and their partner
had known each other, how long they were romantically involved,
whether they were married, and how long they were married.
These measures are reported in the Supplemental Materials.
Results
Meta-analyses. Because Experiments 16 –24 used diverse
populations and tests of interpersonal accuracy tests, we conducted
random effects meta-analyses using the Comprehensive Meta-
analysis 2 software (Borenstein et al., 2010) to identify the robust
effects across experiments.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
559
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
Accuracy. We conducted three meta-analyses to test the effect
of perspective taking on accuracy. The first meta-analysis utilized
the 13 comparisons in which we could calculate accuracy as the
absolute difference between predicted opinions and preferences of
others and their actual opinions and preferences (larger absolute
differences indicate smaller accuracy). The second analysis was
conducted for the eight comparisons in which we could calculate
accuracy as the mean correlation between predicted opinions and
preferences of others and their actual opinions and preferences.
The third analysis was conducted for the eight comparisons in
which we could count the number of participants’ correct predic-
tions. These meta-analyses yielded a significant negative effect for
accuracy when calculated as absolute differences: d0.16, 95%
CI [0.03, 0.30], z2.44, p.015 (a positive sign indicates less
accuracy in perspective taking condition compared with control,
Table 7), and nonsignificant effects for accuracy when calculated
as mean correlations: d⫽⫺0.10, 95% CI [0.25, 0.05],
z⫽⫺1.36, p.17 (a negative sign indicates less accuracy in
perspective taking condition compared with control, Table 8), and
when calculated as the number of correct predictions: d⫽⫺0.01,
95% CI [0.23, 0.20], z⫽⫺0.12, p.90 (a negative sign
indicates less accuracy in perspective taking condition compared
with control, Table 9). The results of the three analyses indicate
that perspective taking did not increase accuracy in predicting
partners’ opinions and preferences. If anything, it reduced accu-
racy as we also observed in Experiments 1–15.
These results did not change in a meaningful way when we
replaced the “partner’s shoes” conditions with the “partner’s per-
spective” conditions in Experiments 16 and 22. In addition, par-
ticipants in the “partner’s shoes” condition were directionally more
accurate than participants in the “partner’s perspective” condition.
This difference was marginally significant for the number of
correct predictions measure in Experiment 22, t(74) 1.84, p
.070, d0.43, but nonsignificant in all other measures in Exper-
iment 22 and in all measures in Experiment 16.
Perceived difficulty. In a meta-analysis of the four compari-
sons in which we measured perceived difficulty, we observed a
nonsignificant difference between the perspective taking and con-
trol conditions, d0.03, 95% CI [0.30, 0.36], z0.16, p.87
(see Table 10). Note that this differs from Experiments 1–15 in
which perspective takers reported experiencing more difficulty
than those in the control condition. This different pattern of results
could stem from participants’ increased familiarity with the targets
of judgment in Experiments 16 –24.
Confidence and overconfidence. In a meta-analysis of the
eight comparisons in which we measured confidence, we observed
a nonsignificant difference between perspective taking and control
conditions, d0.08, 95% CI [0.09, 0.25], z0.90, p.37 (see
Table 11). In contrast to Experiments 1–15, perspective taking did
not significantly reduce confidence. If anything, it directionally
increased it. This may again be because participants in Experi-
ments 16 –24 had more knowledge about the other person’s per-
spective to rely on in the perspective taking condition. We calcu-
lated overconfidence by subtracting the number of accurate
responses from confidence scores (i.e., predicted number of accu-
rate responses). Overall, participants were highly overconfident in
their predictions, d1.50, 95% CI [1.23, 1.78], z10.58, p
.001. This overconfidence was statistically significant in all eight
comparisons. In a meta-analysis of the eight comparisons in which
we measured both confidence and accuracy, there was no effect of
overconfidence, indicating that perspective taking did not influ-
ence overconfidence, d0.04, 95% CI [0.16, 0.24], z0.39,
p.70.
Table 8
Meta-Analysis on Accuracy (Mean Correlations Between Predicted Responses and Actual Responses) for Perspective Taking Versus
Control Conditions, Experiments 16 –24
Experiment Task Location (N) Control
PT: Other’s
shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit ZP
16 Activities (partners) Community #1 (74) .64 (.15) .65 (.16) .07 .23 .38 .53 .32 .751
17 Activities (partners) Community #1 (66) .68 (.14) .62 (.16) .36 .25 .84 .13 1.44 .150
18 Movies (strangers) US U. #2 (80) .40 (.36) .33 (.37) .14 .22 .58 .30 .63 .528
19 Jokes (strangers) Community #2 (74) .16 (.36) .07 (.38) .24 .23 .69 .22 1.01 .314
20 Videos (strangers) US U. #2 (84) .19 (.31) .10 (.45) .24 .22 .67 .19 1.10 .270
21 Art (strangers) US U. #2 (92) .35 (.26) .30 (.25) .20 .21 .61 .21 .97 .331
22 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (82) .48 (.21) .46 (.23) .11 .22 .54 .33 .47 .635
23 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (80) .33 (.28) .35 (.20) .03 .23 .41 .47 .14 .887
23 Opinions (strangers) Community #1 (79) .07 (.22) .11 (.17) .24 .23 .21 .68 1.06 .291
24
Performance appraisal simulation
Burke’s chance MBA (101) .30 .21
24
Performance appraisal simulation
Stanley’s chance MBA (101) .21 .14
24
Performance appraisal simulation
Burke’s impression MBA (101) .10 .05
24
Performance appraisal simulation
Stanley’s impression MBA (101) .17 .04
Total .10 .08 .25 .05 1.36 .173
Note. The meta-analysis was conducted on a Fisher-transformation of the correlations. For ease of interpretation we report the mean Pearson correlations.
In Experiment 24, the correlations were calculated between two ratings rather than between mean ratings as in the other experiments. Therefore, it was not
included in the meta-analysis.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
560 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
Reducing egocentrism. We conducted two meta-analyses on
the nine comparisons in which we measured participants’ own
preferences that allow us to test whether or not perspective taking
systematically decreases egocentric projection compared with a
control condition. When calculating projection as the absolute
difference between predicted opinions of others and self-opinions
(larger absolute differences indicate smaller projection), we ob-
served a nonsignificant reduction in egocentric projection in the
perspective taking conditions compared with the control condi-
tions, d0.12, 95% CI [0.04, 0.27], z1.49, p.14 (see
Table 12). This was also the case when calculating projection as
the mean correlation between predicted opinions of others and
self-opinions (smaller correlations indicate smaller projection),
d⫽⫺0.14, 95% CI [0.34, 0.06], z⫽⫺1.38, p.17, such that
participants in the perspective taking condition were less egocen-
tric than participants in the control condition (see Table 13).
Discussion
Across nine experiments consisting of naturalistic tests of inter-
personal accuracy—predicting a partner’s preferences and opin-
ions—we found that an explicit instruction to engage in perspec-
tive taking did not increase accuracy. If anything, it decreased
accuracy.
Experiments 16 –24 do not provide a clear explanation for why
perspective taking failed to increase accuracy. Among pairs of
participants who were encouraged to take the perspective of their
partner, reading the mind of their partner was not perceived to be
more or less difficult, and did not yield more or less confidence,
compared with control condition. Interestingly, unlike participants
in Experiments 1–15 who were underconfident in their predictions,
participants in Experiments 16 –24 were dramatically overconfi-
dent. Participants in Experiments 16 –24 were more familiar with
their targets’ perspectives and we therefore think it was likely that
the judgment task was generally easier as a result, thereby increas-
ing confidence. Participants’ overconfidence, however, did not
differ systematically between perspective taking and control con-
ditions. Perspective takers did seem to be less egocentric (i.e.,
projective) to some extent compared with control participants, but
this effect was only marginally significant when measured as
correlations between predictions and self-ratings but not when
measured as absolute differences between predictions and self-
ratings. Less projection, however, did not increase accuracy in the
perspective taking condition compared with the control condi-
tion.
We believe the collective results of all of the experiments presented
so far (Experiments 1–24) are especially interesting because they
stand in stark contrast to the survey we presented in the introduction,
where respondents tended to predict that perspective taking would
increase accuracy across many of these tests. Common sense indicates
that perspective taking should increase interpersonal understanding.
Likewise, psychological theory predicts that perspective taking could
increase interpersonal accuracy through a variety of different mech-
anisms (such as behavioral mimicry, increased empathy, or reduced
egocentrism). These mechanisms all presume that taking another’s
Table 9
Meta-Analysis on Accuracy (Number of Correct Predictions) for Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions, Experiments 16 –24
Experiment Task Location (N) Control
PT: Other’s
shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
16 Activities (partners) Community #1 (74) 11.89 (2.81) 13.03 (3.67) .35 .23 .11 .81 1.48 .138
17 Activities (partners) Community #1 (66) 12.24 (4.02) 10.66 (3.92) .40 .25 .89 .09 1.60 .110
18 Movies (strangers) US U. #2 (80) 5.03 (2.20) 4.13 (2.44) .39 .23 .83 .06 1.72 .086
19 Jokes (strangers) Community #2 (78) 3.35 (1.72) 3.24 (1.94) .06 .23 .50 .38 .27 .791
20 Videos (strangers) US U. #2 (79) 1.89 (1.21) 1.98 (1.23) .07 .22 .35 .50 .34 .734
21 Art (strangers) US U. #2 (92) 2.50 (1.56) 2.26 (1.41) .16 .21 .57 .25 .77 .440
22 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (82) 4.89 (2.25) 6.00 (1.90) .53 .23 .08 .98 2.33 .020
23 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (80) 4.64 (2.22) 4.03 (1.80) .30 .23 .74 .14 1.32 .186
23 Opinions (strangers) Community #1 (79) 3.40 (2.03) 3.83 (1.77) .23 .23 .22 .67 .99 .321
Total .01 .11 .23 .20 .12 .904
Note. There are 37 items in Activities, 16 items in Movies, 12 items in Jokes, 8 items in Videos, 18 items in Art, and 21 items in Opinions.
Table 10
Meta-Analysis on Perceived Difficulty for Perspective Taking and Control Conditions, Experiments 16 –24
Experiment Task Location (N) Control PT: Other’s shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
20 Videos (strangers) US U. #2 (93) 4.72 (1.57) 5.19 (1.26) .33 .21 .08 .74 1.58 .113
21 Art (strangers) US U. #2 (88) 6.44 (2.15) 7.07 (2.19) .29 .21 .13 .71 1.36 .176
23 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (80) 4.39 (1.96) 3.86 (1.55) .30 .23 .74 .15 1.31 .189
23 Opinions (strangers) Community #1 (79) 7.84 (1.99) 7.36 (1.87) .25 .23 .69 .20 1.09 .274
Total .03 .17 .30 .36 .16 .870
Note. Participants made their ratings on 11-point scales.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
561
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
perspective will lead people to consider new information that they
would not have considered otherwise, and that this new information
will provide a systematically more accurate guide to another person’s
mental experience. Our results simply suggest that the information
people consider when they shift perspective may not be systematically
more accurate than the information they would have considered
otherwise.
Experiment 25: Perspective Getting
If taking another person’s perspective does not systematically
increase accuracy, is there anything one can do to reliably increase
understanding? If so, are people who are using this more effective
strategy aware of its usefulness?
In one final experiment, we compared the effectiveness of
perspective taking against another approach that almost necessar-
ily collects more accurate information directly from another per-
son’s perspective, what we refer to as perspective getting.In
particular, increasing insight into another person’s mind should
require getting more accurate information about his or her per-
spective. One obvious way to do this is by asking a person to report
directly on his or her thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and other mental
states and then using that information as a guide, just as survey
researchers do to assess public opinions with a relatively high
degree of accuracy.
Of course, self-reports are sometimes inaccurate, such as when
asking people to explain their own mental processes (Nisbett &
Wilson, 1977), or when discussing topics with strong demand
characteristics (Schwarz, 1999). However, self-reports of con-
scious mental experiences, such as conscious beliefs, emotions, or
attitudes, are still consistently the best predictors of behavior
(Greenwald, Poehlman, Uhlmann, & Banaji, 2009;Oswald, Mitch-
ell, Blanton, Jaccard, & Tetlock, 2013). More important, perspec-
tive taking is often presumed to increase understanding of another
person’s conscious experience, regardless of whether that experi-
ence itself accurately reflects some objective reality or not. If you
want to know whether your spouse believes he or she would prefer
a weekend in London or Paris, or watch Love Actually rather than
Iron Man 3, the most accurate strategy would likely be to get your
spouse’s perspective by asking what he or she prefers rather than
trying to take his or her perspective and guess.
Although this approach to increasing accuracy seems obvious,
we believe it is worth comparing its effectiveness against perspec-
Table 11
Meta-Analysis on Confidence (Predicted Number of Correct Responses) for Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions,
Experiments 16 –24
Experiment Task Location (N) Control PT: Other’s shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
16 Activities (partners) Community #1 (74) 23.61 (6.21) 24.95 (4.66) .25 .23 .21 .70 1.05 .294
17 Activities (partners) Community #1 (65) 21.39 (7.38) 24.44 (7.06) .42 .25 .07 .91 1.68 .092
19 Jokes (strangers) Community #2 (75) 6.11 (2.22) 6.81 (2.59) .29 .23 .17 .75 1.25 .211
20 Videos (strangers) US U. #2 (93) 4.54 (1.53) 4.02 (1.44) .35 .21 .76 .06 1.68 .094
21 Art (strangers) US U. #2 (88) 7.60 (3.45) 7.74 (3.67) .04 .21 .38 .46 .19 .850
22 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (82) 12.94 (3.18) 12.42 (4.23) .14 .22 .58 .29 .63 .526
23 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (79) 13.43 (4.20) 13.77 (3.23) .09 .23 .36 .53 .40 .693
23 Opinions (strangers) Community #1 (79) 8.30 (4.07) 9.03 (4.07) .18 .23 .26 .62 .79 .428
Total .08 .09 .09 .25 .90 .370
Note. There are 37 items in Activities, 16 item in Movies, 12 items in Jokes, 8 items in Videos, 18 items in Art, and 21 items in Opinions. We did not
measure confidence in Experiments 18 and 24.
Table 12
Meta-Analysis on Egocentric Projection (Absolute Difference Between Predictions of Partners’ Responses and Own Responses) for
Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions, Experiments 16 –24
Experiment Task Location (N) Control PT: Other’s shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
16 Activities (partners) Community #1 (74) 1.39 (.42) 1.43 (.38) .10 .23 .36 .56 .43 .667
17 Activities (partners) Community #1 (66) 1.50 (.48) 1.44 (.45) .13 .25 .61 .35 .52 .601
18 Movies (strangers) US U. #2 (80) 1.01 (.66) 1.03 (.47) .04 .22 .40 .47 .16 .876
19 Jokes (strangers) Community #2 (78) .93 (.50) 1.08 (.56) .28 .23 .16 .73 1.24 .214
20 Videos (strangers) US U. #2 (93) .91 (.42) .97 (.62) .11 .21 .29 .52 .55 .586
21 Art (strangers) US U. #2 (92) 1.57 (.67) 1.68 (.72) .16 .21 .25 .57 .76 .449
22 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (82) 1.21 (.54) 1.55 (.52) .64 .23 .20 1.09 2.82 .005
23 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (80) 1.55 (.46) 1.48 (.50) .15 .23 .59 .30 .65 .516
23 Opinions (strangers) Community #1 (79) 1.77 (.57) 1.75 (.55) .04 .23 .48 .41 .16 .875
Total .12 .08 .04 .27 1.49 .137
Note. Larger absolute values indicate less projection. We did not test projection in Experiment 24.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
562 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
tive taking for three reasons. First, none of our experiments pro-
vide concrete insight into how a person might actually increase
interpersonal understanding above and beyond a control condition.
Indeed, perspective taking across our experiments tended to de-
crease accuracy. Testing the effectiveness of perspective getting
would test whether it is even possible to systematically improve
interpersonal accuracy. It would also offer practical advice about
exactly what kind approach a person should take to understand
another’s mind more accurately. Second, we believe our perspec-
tive taking results highlight an important subtlety that is often
overlooked in the existing psychological literature. Getting anoth-
er’s perspective directly through bottom-up processes of direct
questioning is different than trying to take another’s perspective
through top-down inferences. It is important to clearly distinguish
between these processes because they may have very different
implications for interpersonal understanding. This distinction can
also serve to refine the theoretical concept of perspective-taking,
which is sometimes used broadly to describe both top-down pro-
cesses of inference and bottom-up processes of direct questioning
or personal experience in another person’s situation. Finally, per-
spective getting may seem like an obvious approach to increasing
interpersonal accuracy, but it may not be so obvious to those in the
midst of interpersonal interactions. By measuring participants’
confidence in judgment, we can assess the degree to which people
are aware of which strategies provide better insight into the mind
of another person than others.
Specifically, we conducted a replication of Experiments 22 and
23, in which participants predicted their romantic partner’s agree-
ment or disagreement with a series of opinion statements. Partic-
ipants in the perspective taking condition followed the same in-
structions as in Experiments 22 and 23, whereas participants in the
control condition were instructed to “use whatever strategy you
think is best.” Each participant in the perspective getting condition,
in contrast, was first given the chance to ask his or her partner
either half or all of the opinion statements, listen to the partner’s
verbal response, and then to later predict how his or her partner
would respond on the numeric preference scale for each item.
Allowing participants to get their partners’ perspective on either a
subset of the items, or the full set of items, enables us to more
precisely assess the impact of this approach on accuracy.
We predicted that getting a partner’s perspective would increase
accuracy compared with taking his or her perspective and to the
control condition. Because the survey items we used were de-
signed so as to be uncorrelated with each other (Hoch, 1987), we
expected that getting perspective would increase accuracy only on
the items people discussed. Those in the partial perspective-getting
conditions, who discuss only half the items, should therefore
obtain accuracy rates somewhere in between the control and full
perspective getting condition (where participants discuss all of the
items). Obviously, these results would change if we used a set of
highly intercorrelated survey items. Finally, given the tenuous
relationship between confidence and accuracy in judgment, we
expected to observe a smaller difference in participants’ confi-
dence across conditions than in accuracy across conditions. Those
in the perspective-getting conditions, we predicted, would not be
fully aware of just how much their judgment improved compared
with the other experimental conditions.
Method
Participants. One hundred four heterosexual romantic cou-
ples were recruited in the community to complete a short survey.
Of these, 58% were married. Participants ranged in age from 19 to
72 (M36), and were in a relationship between one month and
43 years (M10 years).
Materials and procedure. Couples were invited to partici-
pate in a study on how well people can gauge their partner’s
opinions, using the same test as reported in Experiments 22 and 23.
One member of each couple (predictor) was asked to predict how
their partner would respond to 20 opinion statements selected from
Consumer Reports (Hoch, 1987) and then report his or her own
opinions. The other member (target) was only asked to rate his or
her own opinions. Predictors were randomly assigned to one of
five strategies and read the following instructions:
Control condition. Participants read, “We would like for you
to use whatever strategy you think is best.” Participants in the
control condition received no further suggestions on what these
strategies might be.
Perspective taking condition. Participants read, “We would
like for you to take the perspective of your partner. Please imagine
Table 13
Meta-Analysis on Egocentric Projection (Mean Correlations Between Predictions of Partners’ Responses and Own Responses) for
Perspective Taking Versus Control Conditions, Experiments 16 –24
Experiment Task Location (N) Control PT: Other’s shoes
Meta-analysis results
dSE
CI lower
limit
CI upper
limit Zp
16 Activities (partners) Community #1 (74) .45 (.20) .40 (.21) .25 .23 .70 .21 1.06 .291
17 Activities (partners) Community #1 (66) .38 (.23) .39 (.28) .14 .25 .35 .62 .56 .578
18 Movies (strangers) US U. #2 (80) .44 (.51) .36 (.44) .25 .22 .69 .19 1.12 .262
19 Jokes (strangers) Community #1 (75) .31 (.39) .27 (.42) .01 .23 .47 .44 .06 .954
20 Videos (strangers) US U. #2 (92) .29 (.47) .15 (.59) .29 .21 .70 .13 1.36 .173
21 Art (strangers) US U. #2 (92) .52 (.31) .49 (.31) .14 .21 .55 .27 .69 .491
22 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (82) .57 (.26) .37 (.27) .76 .23 1.21 .31 3.33 .001
23 Opinions (partners) Community #1 (80) .36 (.29) .43 (.30) .29 .23 .15 .73 1.29 .198
23 Opinions (strangers) Community #1 (79) .19 (.32) .22 (.28) .06 .23 .39 .50 .25 .799
Total .14 .10 .34 .06 1.38 .168
Note. The meta-analysis was conducted on a Fisher-transformation of the correlations. For ease of interpretation we report the mean Pearson correlations.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
563
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
a typical day in the life of your partner as if you were him/her,
looking at the world through his/her eyes and walking through the
world in his/her shoes. You should start from the beginning of your
partner’s day to the end, focusing on his/her thoughts and feelings.
Please take approximately five minutes to write about a day in the
life of your partner. Once you have done that, we would like for
you to use this information to rate the extent to which your partner
would agree or disagree with the following statements. Please use
this strategy even if you think another strategy would be better.”
Perspective getting (–all, – even, and – odd) conditions.
Participants read,
Before you rate the extent to which your partner would agree or
disagree with the following statements, we would like for you to ask
your partner to tell you about their opinions. We will give you a list
of statements. Please take approximately five minutes to ask your
partner about the extent to which they agree or disagree with each of
the statements on the list, trying to get a sense of the range of your
partner’s opinions. Your partner might strongly agree with some
statements, somewhat agree with others, and they may strongly dis-
agree with others. Once you have done that, we would like for you to
use the information you got from your partner to predict the extent to
which your partner would agree or disagree with these statements.
Please use this strategy even if you think another strategy would be
better.
Participants in the perspective getting—all condition received the
full list of statements, and those in the perspective getting-even and
-odd conditions received a list with only the even- or odd-
numbered statements, respectively.
Each participant in the perspective taking condition was given
five minutes in which to write about a day in the life of his or her
partner, a commonly used perspective-taking manipulation
(adapted from Macrae, Bodenhausen, Milne, & Jetten, 1994). Each
participant in the perspective getting conditions was given five
minutes in which to ask his or her partner about their opinions on
the items provided. Note that perspective getting participants sim-
ply discussed their opinions verbally, rather than putting them on
the numeric scale that they would use later in the experiment. This
is important because participants in the perspective getting condi-
tion still had to infer their partner’s numeric response from their
verbal answer, rather than simply remember the exact numeric
answer that a partner provided. After this 5-min period, partners
were moved to separate locations and given the full list of opinion
statements. Targets reported their opinion on each item on a
7-point scale (3strongly disagree,3strongly agree).
Predictors guessed how their target would respond to each item on
the same scales.
We next measured participants’ confidence in the accuracy of
their own or their partner’s judgment in two different ways. First,
predictors rated how confident they were that their predictions of
their partner’s opinions were correct, and targets rated how con-
fident they were that their partner’s predictions of their opinions
were correct on an 11-point scale (0 not at all confident,10
extremely confident). Second, predictors indicated the number of
responses they thought they predicted exactly correctly, and targets
also indicated the number of responses they thought their partner
predicted exactly correctly.
Finally, participants reported how long they and their partner
had been romantically involved and how long (if applicable) they
had been married. Participants were then reunited with their part-
ners and debriefed.
Results
Means, standard deviations, and correlations for the different
dependent measures are presented in Table 14.
Accuracy. We assessed accuracy in three ways. First, we
calculated the absolute mean difference between predicted and
actual opinions (larger absolute differences indicate smaller accu-
racy). Second, we calculated the correlation between predicted and
actual opinions (larger correlations indicate greater accuracy),
using a Fisher-transformation to correct for non-normality in Pear-
son correlations (Fisher, 1915). For ease of interpretation, we
report untransformed Pearson correlations in the tables and text.
Third, we calculated the number of items predictors guessed cor-
rectly. All results are presented in Table 14. Across these mea-
sures, perspective getting improved accuracy relative to the control
condition. Perspective taking did not increase accuracy. If any-
thing, it again decreased accuracy.
Accuracy as measured by the absolute mean difference between
predicted and actual ratings significantly varied by experimental
condition, F(4, 99) 14.61, p.001, p
2.37. Compared with
the control condition, participants were significantly more accurate
(reflected in smaller absolute differences between predicted and
actual responses) in the perspective getting-full condition,
t(99) ⫽⫺4.89, p.001, d1.85, perspective getting-even
condition, t(99) ⫽⫺2.62, p.010, d0.75, and perspective
Table 14
Results for Experiment 25
Measure Control
PT: Other’s
shoes
Perspective
getting (even)
Perspective
getting (odd)
Perspective
getting (all)
1. Accuracy (ABS difference between predicted and actual opinions) 1.46
a
(.31) 1.71
b
(.43) 1.15
c
(.49) 1.21
c
(.29) .88
d
(.32)
2. Accuracy (Mean correlation between predicted and actual opinions) .50
a
(.15) .39
a
(.24) .65
b
(.23) .66
b
(.16) .81
c
(.12)
3. Accuracy (# of correct predictions) 4.90
a
(1.70) 3.95
a
(1.94) 7.43
b
(2.79) 6.35
bc
(2.52) 8.60
cd
(3.02)
4. Projection (ABS difference between predicted and self opinions) 1.62 (.33) 1.56 (.60) 1.45 (.56) 1.47 (.42) 1.42 (.52)
5. Projection (Mean correlation between predicted and self opinions) .35
a
(.24) .37
abⴱⴱ
(.30) .49
ab
(.24) .44
ab
(.24) .53
cⴱⴱ
(.23)
6. Confidence (Ratings) 7.30 (1.13) 7.05 (1.63) 7.00 (1.26) 6.65 (2.01) 7.55 (1.36)
7. Confidence (# of estimated correct predictions) 12.60
a
(3.21) 13.48
ab
(3.12) 14.45
b
(2.46) 13.53
ab
(3.36) 14.80
b
(2.75)
8. Overconfidence (Difference between #7 and #3) 7.60
a
(3.73) 9.67
b
(4.25) 6.65
ac
(2.93) 7.00
ac
(3.90) 6.20
ac
(3.65)
Note. There are 20 items in the Hoch questionnaire. Within each measure, numbers that do not share a superscript differ significantly at p.05. For
numbers that share an identical number of asterisks the difference is marginally significant at p.10.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
564 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
getting-odd condition, t(99) ⫽⫺2.04, p.044, d0.82. How-
ever, participants were significantly less accurate in the perspec-
tive taking condition than in the control condition, t(99) 2.20,
p.031, d0.68.
Accuracy as measured by the correlation between predicted and
actual ratings also varied by experimental condition, F(4, 99)
15.24, p.001, p
2.38. Compared with the control condition,
participants were significantly more accurate in in the perspective
getting-full condition, t(99) 5.23, p.001, d2.28, perspec-
tive getting-even condition, t(99) 2.66, p.009, d0.77, and
perspective getting-odd condition, t(99) 2.68, p.009, d
1.03. Participants in the perspective taking condition were not
more accurate than those in the control condition, t(99) ⫽⫺1.89,
p.061, d⫽⫺0.55. If anything, they were again directionally
less accurate.
The number of items predictors guessed exactly correctly also
varied by experimental condition, F(4, 99) 12.41, p.001,
p
2.33. Compared with the control condition, participants pre-
dicted significantly more items correctly in the perspective getting-
full condition, t(99) 4.86, p.001, d1.50, and the perspec-
tive getting-even condition, t(99) 3.36, p.001, d1.09, and
marginally more items in the perspective getting-odd condition,
t(99) 1.90, p.060, d0.68. Participants in the perspective
taking condition again were not more accurate than those in the
control condition, t(99) ⫽⫺1.28, p.20, d⫽⫺0.52. They were
directionally less accurate.
Notice that the two perspective getting conditions that discussed
only half of the survey items yielded accuracy that fell midway
between the perspective getting-full condition and the control
condition on both absolute mean difference and correlational ac-
curacy, the two accuracy measures for which we had item-level
measures of predicted and actual accuracy. This moderate increase
in accuracy compared with the control condition occurred because
predictors’ accuracy significantly increased only on the items that
predictors discussed explicitly with their partners. On those items,
participants in the two partial perspective-getting conditions were
as accurate as those in the perspective getting-all conditions, but
they were no more accurate than the control condition on the items
they did not discuss with their partner. We discuss the details of
these secondary analyses in the Supplemental Materials. Again, we
note that the items within this survey were designed so as to be
independent from each other, and so these results simply reflect the
nature of the survey items used in the experiment. Accurate insight
gained from any strategy generalizes to other contexts only to the
extent that those contexts are intercorrelated.
These results make it clear that participants gained insight into
their partner’s opinions when they got the person’s perspective
directly, in this case through a bottom-up process of directly asking
him or her to report on an opinion. As in the preceding experi-
ments, taking another’s perspective through a top-down process of
inference did not increase accuracy compared with a control con-
dition. If anything, perspective taking again decreased accuracy.
Confidence and overconfidence. Despite large differences in
accuracy across conditions, the right panel of Figure 2 shows that
confidence in the accuracy of their judgment (measured on 0 –10
scales) did not vary across conditions, F(4, 97) 1.01, p.41,
p
2.04. These confidence ratings were also nonsignificantly
correlated with absolute mean difference accuracy, r⫽⫺.08, p
.44, correlational accuracy, r.08, p.44, and the number of
items participants predicted correctly, r.12, p.21.
We also measured participants’ sense of their own accuracy by
asking them to predict how many items they guessed exactly
correctly. Again despite large differences in the actual accuracy,
participants’ predictions of the number guessed exactly correctly
did not vary by experimental condition, F(4, 95) 1.69, p.16,
p
2.07. Predictors’ beliefs about the number they guessed
exactly correctly was nonsignificantly correlated with the number
they actually guessed correctly, r.15, p.13. It was also
Figure 2. Confidence and overconfidence measures as a function of condition, Experiment 25.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
565
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
nonsignificantly correlated with absolute mean difference accu-
racy, r⫽⫺.13, p.19, and correlational accuracy, r.10, p
.31.
Comparing the predicted number of items guessed correctly
against the actual number of items guessed correctly provides a
direct measure of overconfidence. As shown in the left panel of
Figure 2, participants had very limited insight into how their
prediction strategy affected their actual accuracy. A 5 (Condi-
tion) 2 (Number correct: Actual vs. Predicted) ANOVA with
repeated measures on the second factor indicated that participants
across conditions were dramatically overconfident, believing they
predicted more items correctly (M13.71, SD 3.22) than they
actually did (M6.20, SD 2.92), F(1, 95) 408.76, p.001,
p
2.81. The interaction was not significant, F(4, 95) 1.02, p
.403, p
2.04, indicating that overconfidence did not vary by
experimental condition.
Reducing egocentrism. We also calculated the correspon-
dence between predictors’ own stated opinions and their predic-
tions of partner’s stated opinions in two different ways. First, as
the absolute mean difference between each predictor’s own opin-
ions and predictions of his or her partner’s opinions. Second, as the
correlation between each predictor’s own opinions and predictions
of his or her partner’s opinions. We report the results of these
analyses for the sake of consistency with the preceding experi-
ments, but urge caution interpreting these results in the perspective
getting conditions. In particular, predictors in the perspective get-
ting conditions may have aligned their attitudes with their partner’s
stated opinions, meaning that these measures may reflect social
influence rather than projection. Indeed, partners in the perspective
getting-full condition reported more similar preferences than those
in the control condition: contrast analyses indicated that the abso-
lute difference between own and partner’s opinions was margin-
ally smaller in the perspective getting-full condition (M1.54,
SD .25) than in the control condition (M1.77, SD .43),
t(30.36) ⫽⫺2.00, p.054, d⫽⫺0.65, and the correlation
between own and partner’s opinions was significantly larger in the
perspective getting—full condition (M.44, SD .24) than in
the control condition (M.31, SD .17), t(98) 2.01, p.047,
d0.63. These results in the perspective getting conditions are
therefore difficult to interpret.
With that concern in mind, the absolute difference between own
opinions and predicted partner’s opinions did not vary by experi-
mental condition, F(4, 98) .58, p.68, p
2.02, but the
correlation between these two measures did, F(4, 97) 2.61, p
.040, p
2.10. In contrast to the meta-analysis of Experiments
16 –24, we did not observe a significantly smaller correlation in the
perspective taking condition (M.37, SD .30) than in the
control condition (M.35, SD .24), t(97) 0.08, p.94, d
0.08, indicating that perspective taking did not significantly reduce
egocentrism in this experiment. In contrast, compared with the
control condition, the correlation was significantly larger in the
perspective getting-full (M.53, SD .23), t(97) 2.38, p
.019, d0.77, and perspective getting-even conditions (M.49,
SD .24), t(97) 2.13, p.036, d0.58. The correlation
between own opinions and predicted partner opinions did not
differ significantly between the perspective getting-odd condition
(M.44, SD .24) and the control condition, t(97) 1.17, p
.25, d0.37.
Discussion
Romantic partners, most of whom were married, and who had
been together for an average of 10 years, presumably know a lot
about their partner’s perspective. Nevertheless, trying to take a
partner’s perspective again failed to increase insight into their
partner’s mind. Instead, compared with predicting their partner’s
responses without special instructions, perspective taking in-
creased confidence but decreased accuracy, thereby increasing
overconfidence. This is not the outcome that perspective taking is
presumably intended to create.
This experiment also tested a more obvious strategy for increas-
ing accuracy into the mind of one’s partner: getting another’s
perspective by asking him or her directly. We referred to this as
perspective-getting to contrast a bottom-up approach to understand
another person against a top-down approach of trying to take
another’s perspective by shifting cognitive attention to another’s
point of view. Although asking one’s partner to state his or her
preferences is an obvious way to increase understanding, perhaps
the most important result from this experiment is that participants
themselves did not seem to be aware of how this strategy actually
affected their insight compared with the relatively ineffective
strategies used in our other conditions. One might imagine that
students who ask their teacher the answers to exam questions
would be more confident when completing the exam than students
who did not. Our romantic partners in the perspective-getting
conditions did something conceptually similar and yet were not
markedly more confident than those whose accuracy was some-
times only slightly better than chance guessing in the control and
perspective taking conditions. Taking perspective and getting per-
spective are two obviously different approaches to understanding
the mind of another person. The obvious benefit of one strategy
compared with the other was not, however, so obvious to those
who were actually using each strategy.
General Discussion
A survey of 1,020 Americans asked them to indicate which of 5
superpowers they would most like to possess: invisibility, telepor-
tation, flight, time travel, or reading others’ minds (Marist, 2011).
Tied with time travel for the most desired superpower was the
ability to read the minds of others. On the one hand, this is
somewhat ironic as the ability to read the minds of others is
arguably the only capacity among that list that people already
possess. The human brain stands out in our primate lineage for its
relatively large neocortex (Jerison, 1971;Herrmann et al., 2007), a
feature that may be the product of natural selection to handle the
cognitive requirements of living in large social groups (Dunbar,
1993). By the age of 2, human toddlers’ capacity to understand the
minds of others has already surpassed that of our nearest primate
relatives, the chimpanzee (Herrmann et al., 2007). On the other
hand, being able to understand the mind of another person does not
mean that one is able to do so perfectly. Studies of human social
cognition routinely reveal accuracy rates in understanding others’
beliefs, attitudes, emotions, and intentions that are significantly
better than random chance but also markedly worse than perfect
(e.g., Ambady, Bernieri, & Richeson, 2000;Funder, 1995;Hall &
Schmid Mast, 2007;Ickes, 1997;Kenny, 1991;Swann & Gill,
1997;Todorov, Olivola, Dotsch, & Mende-Siedlecki, 2015). In
many ways, everyday life would be much easier if people were
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
566 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
able to understand exactly what others thought of them, could
understand when others were lying versus telling the truth, could
identify who really loved them and who was just pretending, and
could anticipate others’ actions based on an accurate understand-
ing of their intentions. It is therefore easy to understand why a
person might want to make this potential super power work even
better.
Here we reported the results of 25 experiments that tested one
common sense strategy for enabling more accurate mind reading:
perspective taking. Across a wide variety of experimental tests,
involving relationships that ranged from strangers to spouses, we
found no evidence that perspective taking systematically increased
one’s ability to accurately understand the mind of another person
compared with a control condition. If anything, we found that
perspective taking tended to decrease interpersonal accuracy. A
meta-analysis on all 25 experiments (number of correct responses
in Experiments 1–15 and absolute differences in Experiments
16 –25) yielded a statistically significant, albeit small, negative
effect of perspective taking on accuracy, d⫽⫺0.23, 95% CI
[0.32, 0.13], z⫽⫺4.72, p.001. This result does not change
in a meaningful way if the meta-analysis includes other accuracy
measures for Experiments 16 –25 (for correlations between pre-
dicted and actual responses, d⫽⫺0.21 and for number of items
predicted correctly, d⫽⫺0.17). Dale Carnegie (1936) suggested
that “trying honestly to see things from the other person’s point of
view” was a “formula that will work wonders for you.” Perspective
taking may indeed work some interpersonal wonders, but our
results suggest that increasing insight into the mind of another
person is not among them.
It is worth noting that we began our research presuming, con-
sistent with the common sense we observed in the pretest reported
in the introduction and with existing psychological theory, that
shifting perspective to another person’s point of view could in-
crease interpersonal accuracy in many circumstances. We con-
ducted such a large number of experiments across a wide variety
of contexts and utilizing a variety of interpersonal understanding
measures because we kept searching for contexts as well as mea-
sures that might reveal, based on existing theory, circumstances in
which perspective taking could increase accuracy. Because the
scientific method is unable to confidently affirm the null hypoth-
esis, our experiments are unable to confirm that perspective taking
is ineffective for increasing interpersonal accuracy. They can only
show the absence of positive evidence despite a concerted effort to
test the most likely contexts where we, our pretest participants, and
existing psychological theory presumed that perspective taking
could increase accuracy.
That perspective taking failed to increase accuracy was not the
product of ineffective experimental manipulations. In a manipula-
tion check across Experiments 1–15, participants in the perspective
taking conditions reported trying harder to adopt another’s per-
spective than participants in the control conditions. In addition, in
a meta-analysis across all experiments in which we measured
perceived difficulty, perspective taking was perceived as more
difficult, d0.13, 95% CI [0.03, 0.23], z2.54, p.011. This
perception was stronger and more reliable in Experiments 1–15
than in Experiments 20 –23, perhaps because participants were less
familiar with the judgmental tasks or the targets of judgment. We
also found evidence that perspective taking tended to decrease
egocentric biases in judgment. This effect was stronger and more
consistent when measured by the false belief task (Experiments 4,
5, 8, and 13) than when measured incidentally as the correspon-
dence between one’s own opinions and preferences and a target’s
opinions and preferences (Experiments 16 –23). However, even
when perspective taking reliably decreased egocentrism it did not
reliably increase accuracy. Finally, we did not find a reliable effect
of perspective taking on confidence. In a meta-analysis across all
experiments in which participants estimated the number of correct
responses as a measure of confidence, perspective taking de-
creased confidence, although this effect was only marginally sig-
nificant, d⫽⫺0.10, 95% CI [0.20, 0.01], z⫽⫺1.81, p
.070. This reduction in confidence was mostly evident in Experi-
ments 1–15. As reported before, in Experiments 16 –25, this effect
was reversed, with perspective taking directionally increasing con-
fidence. This non reliable effect of perspective taking on confi-
dence across experiments may be because participants in the
perspective taking condition in Experiments16-25 were more fa-
miliar with and had more knowledge about the other person’s
perspective to rely on than participants in Experiments 1–15.
However, even when perspective taking increased confidence it
did not reliably increase accuracy.
4
Some of the additional conditions we included across experi-
ments, discussed in more detail in the Supplemental Materials,
were meant to address potential explanations for these negative
results of perspective taking on accuracy. None of these conditions
yielded what we believe is a clear explanation. For instance, it is
possible that perspective taking caused people to think too hard,
leading them to overlook intuitive responses that might have been
correct. However, an explicit instruction for participants to think
hard in Experiment 3 did not significantly reduce accuracy com-
pared with the control condition (Ms18.83 vs. 18.48, respec-
tively, t(119) .46, p.64, d0.02). Perspective taking might
also have led participants to distrust their intuitions and kept them
from going with their first more accurate intuitive response, but an
explicit instruction to rely on intuitions actually decreased accu-
racy in Experiment 4 compared with the control condition (Ms
17.84 vs. 18.89, t(129) 2.03, p.044, d0.46). We also tested
whether perspective taking leads to greater mimicry, but an ex-
plicit instruction to mimic the smile of the person in the video did
not change accuracy in Experiment 13 compared with the condi-
tion (Ms13.23 vs. 12.42, respectively, t(116) 1.15, p.252,
d0.30). It could also be argued that perspective taking did not
reduce egocentrism enough to measurably improve accuracy. Our
experiments suggest otherwise: Explicitly instructing participants
4
We also examined whether accuracy was predicted by three variables
that yielded interesting results— confidence, response time, and perceived
effort. Across Experiments 1–25 there was an overall weak positive rela-
tionship between confidence and accuracy. This was true for all three
measures of accuracy in Experiments 16-25: mean absolute difference, r
.10, CI (.04, .15), Z3.42, p.001, correlations between predicted and
actual responses, r.11, CI (.05, .16), Z3.64, p.001, and number
of correct predictions, r.14, CI (.07, .20), Z4.11, p.001. None of
these correlations differed by condition: mean absolute difference, Q(1)
0.41, p.52, correlations between predicted and actual responses, Q(1)
0.28, p.59, and number of correct predictions, Q(1) 1.96, p.16. In
Experiment 1-15, accuracy was weakly predicted by response time,
r⫽⫺.08, CI (.16, .01), Z⫽⫺2.26, p.024, but this relationship
between accuracy and response time did not differ by condition, Q(1)
0.16, p.69. Accuracy, however, was not predicted by effort, r⫽⫺.03,
CI (.10, .04), Z⫽⫺0.83, p.41.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
567
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
to rely on their own perspectives in Experiments 16 –20 and
Experiments 22–23 meaningfully increased egocentrism (when
measured as absolute difference between predicted and self-
responses) relative to control conditions, d⫽⫺0.64, 95% CI
[0.94, 0.33], z⫽⫺4.08, p.001, but did not significantly
decrease accuracy (when measured as absolute difference between
predicted and actual responses), d0.09, 95% CI [0.07, 0.25],
z1.08, p.28. Although our experiments do not provide an
explanation for why perspective taking sometimes decreased ac-
curacy, they clearly demonstrate that perspective taking does not
systematically increase accuracy.
Of course, it is important to keep these results in perspective. In
particular, to measure the accuracy of social judgment, participants
in our control conditions also needed to be predicting others’
thoughts, beliefs, or mental states. This means that participants in
the control conditions of our experiments were already making
inferences about another person’s perspective. Perspective taking
could increase the use of accurate information that people already
possess about another person when making decisions if they would
have overlooked this information otherwise. For instance, perspec-
tive taking might increase the likelihood that a politician would
consider what he or she already knows about citizen’s attitudes and
beliefs before proposing a policy. Such a result would simply
reflect an increased accessibility about others’ thoughts and feel-
ings while making a decision. Our research suggests that perspec-
tive taking would not systematically increase the accuracy of a
politician’s inferences about a citizen’s attitudes and beliefs. How
perspective taking affects the use of available social knowledge is
distinct from how perspective taking affects the accuracy of avail-
able social knowledge.
Interestingly, the negative effect of perspective taking on accu-
racy that we observed was more pronounced for strangers (Exper-
iments 18 –21, 23, 24) than for partners in a relationship (Exper-
iments 16, 17, 22, 23, 25) when accuracy was measured as
absolute differences between predicted and actual responses
(Strangers: d0.20, 95% CI [0.07, 0.34], z2.89, p.004,
Partners: d0.16, 95% CI [0.17, 0.48], z0.96, p.34). This
decrease in accuracy following perspective taking for strangers
compared with partners was also apparent, but weaker, when
accuracy was measured as the number of predicted correct re-
sponses (Strangers: d⫽⫺0.06, 95% CI [0.26, 0.14], z⫽⫺0.62,
p.54, Partners: d⫽⫺0.05, 95% CI [0.47, 0.37], z⫽⫺0.24,
p.81) and as correlations between predicted and actual re-
sponses (Strangers: d⫽⫺0.12, 95% CI [0.32, 0.08], z⫽⫺1.21,
p.23, Partners: d⫽⫺0.10, 95% CI [0.31, 0.10], z⫽⫺0.97,
p.33). Thus, the difference between partners and strangers in
the effect of perspective taking on accuracy was unreliable. It is
worthwhile to note, that for both strangers and close others, we
failed to find any evidence that perspective taking systematically
increased interpersonal accuracy.
Our final experiment suggests that there are likely to be much
more effective ways of gaining more accurate insight into another
person’s mind. In particular, human beings have also evolved a
sophisticated language whose primary purpose is to convey the
contents of one conscious mind to another (Pinker & Bloom,
1990). Increasing interpersonal understanding may come most
readily from becoming a more effective questioner and listener,
like a skilled journalist or a survey interviewer, rather than by
trying to become a more routine perspective taker. If you want to
know what another person is thinking, it may be best to put them
in a situation where they can answer honestly and then ask them
directly.
This may seem like an obvious solution to increasing interper-
sonal insight, but our final experiment found little evidence that
this was obvious to the participants who were actually using this
strategy. Indeed, the most interesting aspect of Experiment 25 was
the notable disconnect between confidence and accuracy. Despite
large differences in accuracy that came from using different strat-
egies, confidence in judgment did not vary meaningfully across
conditions. This is important because it suggests that people may
have little insight into which strategies are likely to increase
interpersonal understanding and which are not. This result is
consistent with a small body of emerging research that finds
meaningful misunderstanding of effective versus ineffective strat-
egies for improving social cognition. In one experiment (Zhou et
al., 2017), participants were asked to guess another person’s emo-
tional reactions to an evocative series of images. Participants made
their predictions either by reading the target’s expression by
watching a video of his or her facial expressing, or by being in the
person’s situation by seeing the image the target was rating.
Results indicated that participants were dramatically more accurate
when they saw the image the target was rating, and yet participants
tended to dramatically overestimate how effectively they could
read the target’s expressions. In another experiment (Gilbert, Kill-
ingsworth, Eyre, & Wilson, 2009), participants attempted to pre-
dict their own emotional experience in an unknown event either by
learning about details of the event or by getting another person’s
report of his or her experience. Participants tended to believe they
would be more accurate if they learned about details of the event,
when they were actually more accurate if they got another person’s
report of the experience. Each of these three lines of research
suggest that people may overestimate the effectiveness of top-
down processes of inference for understanding the mind of another
person compared with bottom-up process of direct experience or
knowledge acquisition. Mistaken expectations about how best to
understand the minds of others could lead people to choose inef-
fective strategies, thereby increasing misunderstanding. Learning
the cause of these mistaken expectations, and identifying their
consequences, are pressing issues for future research.
Of course, there are limits to the accuracy that can be gained by
trying to get another person’s perspective through bottom-up pro-
cesses. Others may not tell the truth or know their own minds, such
that self-reports are inaccurate. Emotional reactions to an experi-
ence may differ, such that one person’s experience is a poor
simulation for another’s experience. Or a simulation may turn out
to be a poor proxy for the situation being simulated, such as a
sighted person trying to simulate the experience of lifelong blind-
ness by walking around a room blindfolded (Silverman, Gwinn, &
Van Boven, 2015). No strategy for interpersonal understanding is
perfect. The useful comparison standard is therefore not perfec-
tion, but rather the accuracy obtained from other available strate-
gies, as well as people’s beliefs about the effectiveness of these
strategies. Research on both of these comparison standards is
currently limited, and offer promising opportunities for future
research. When it comes to understanding the mind of others,
existing evidence suggests that people may systematically misun-
derstand what’s good for them.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
568 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
Finally, we believe our experiments may be of practical value to
those who are trying to understand the most complicated system
any of us will ever think about—another person’s mind—a little
bit better. Engaging in active perspective taking appears to have a
number of reliable interpersonal consequences: it increases empa-
thy for another person, increases the sense of similarity and con-
nection to others, and encourages cooperation in negotiations. One
recent theoretical model argues that perspective taking’s main
benefit, in fact, is to strengthen social bonds (Galinsky et al.,
2005). Our experiments are not inconsistent with this perspective.
If a person is wanting to feel more connected to another person,
then imagining oneself in another’s shoes is likely to be a useful
strategy to adopt. But if a person is really trying to gain an accurate
understanding of another person’s mind, then another approach
seems to be called for. If you really want to know what’s on the
mind of another person, it is hard to do better than getting their
perspective by just asking them.
References
Adams, G. S., Flynn, F. J., & Norton, M. I. (2012). The gifts we keep on
giving: Documenting and destigmatizing the regifting taboo. Psycholog-
ical Science, 23, 1145–1150. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/09567976
12439718
Ambady, N., Bernieri, F., & Richeson, J. (2000). Towards a histology of
social behavior: Judgmental accuracy from thin slices of behavior. In
M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol.
201–272). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1016/S0065-2601(00)80006-4
Ambady, N., & Gray, H. M. (2002). On being sad and mistaken: Mood
effects on the accuracy of thin-slice judgments. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 83, 947–961. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-
3514.83.4.947
Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Hill, J., Raste, Y., & Plumb, I. (2001).
The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” Test revised version: A study with
normal adults, and adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning
autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42, 241–251.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1469-7610.00715
Baskin, E., Wakslak, C. J., Trope, Y., & Novemsky, N. (2014). Why
feasibility matters more to gift receivers than to givers: A construal-level
approach to gift giving. Journal of Consumer Research, 41, 169 –182.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/675737
Batson, C. D., Early, S., & Salvarni, G. (1997). Perspective taking: Imag-
ining how another feels versus imaging how you would feel. Personality
and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 751–758. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/
0146167297237008
Bernstein, M. J., Sacco, D. F., Brown, C. M., Young, S. G., & Claypool,
H. M. (2010). A preference for genuine smiles following social exclu-
sion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 196 –199. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2009.08.010
Birch, S. A. J., & Bloom, P. (2007). The curse of knowledge in reasoning
about false beliefs. Psychological Science, 18, 382–386. http://dx.doi
.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01909.x
Bond, C. F., Jr., & DePaulo, B. M. (2006). Accuracy of deception judg-
ments. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 214 –234. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327957pspr1003_2
Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgins, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2010).
A basic introduction to fixed-effect and random-effects models for
meta-analysis. Research Synthesis Methods, 1, 97–111. http://dx.doi.org/
10.1002/jrsm.12
Carnegie, D. (1936). How to win friends and influence people. New York,
NY: Simon & Schuster.
Caruso, E., Epley, N., & Bazerman, M. H. (2006). The costs and benefits
of undoing egocentric responsibility assessments in groups. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 857– 871. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1037/0022-3514.91.5.857
Castelli, I., Baglio, F., Blasi, V., Alberoni, M., Falini, A., Liverta-Sempio,
O.,...Marchetti, A. (2010). Effects of aging on mindreading ability
through the eyes: An fMRI study. Neuropsychologia, 48, 2586 –2594.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.05.005
Cavanaugh, L. A., Gino, F., & Fitzsimons, G. J. (2015). When doing good
is bad in gift-giving: Mis-predicting appreciation of socially responsible
gifts. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 131,
178 –189. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2015.07.002
Chan, W., Mccrae, R. R., De Fruyt, F., Jussim, L., Löckenhoff, C. E., De
Bolle, M.,...Terracciano, A. (2012). Stereotypes of age differences in
personality traits: Universal and accurate? Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 103, 1050 –1066. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0
029712
Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1999). The chameleon effect: The
perception-behavior link and social interaction. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 76, 893–910. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-
3514.76.6.893
Cheung, E. O., Slotter, E. B., & Gardner, W. L. (2015). Are you feeling
what I’m feeling? The role of facial mimicry in facilitating reconnection
following social exclusion. Motivation and Emotion, 39, 613– 630.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11031-015-9479-9
Davis, M. H. (1983). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evi-
dence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 44, 113–126. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514
.44.1.113
Davis, M. H., Conklin, L., Smith, A., & Luce, C. (1996). Effect of
perspective taking on the cognitive representation of persons: A merging
of self and other. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70,
713–726. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.70.4.713
Dunbar, R. I. M. (1993). Coevolution of neocortical size, group size and
language in humans. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 16, 681–735.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00032325
Epley, N., Caruso, E., & Bazerman, M. H. (2006). When perspective taking
increases taking: Reactive egoism in social interaction. Journal of Per-
sonality and Social Psychology, 91, 872– 889. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/
0022-3514.91.5.872
Epley, N., Keysar, B., Van Boven, L., & Gilovich, T. (2004). Perspective
taking as egocentric anchoring and adjustment. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 87, 327–339. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-
3514.87.3.327
Epley, N., Morewedge, C., & Keysar, B. (2004). Perspective taking in
children and adults: Equivalent egocentrism but differential correction.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 760 –768. http://dx.doi
.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2004.02.002
Eyal, T., & Epley, N. (2010). How to seem telepathic: Enabling mind
reading by matching construal. Psychological Science, 21, 700 –705.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797610367754
Fisher, R. A. (1915). The frequency distribution of the correlation coeffi-
cient in samples from an indefinitely large population. Biometrika, 10,
507–521.
Flynn, J. F., & Adams, G. S. (2009). Money can’t buy love: Asymmetric
beliefs about gift price and feelings of appreciation. Journal of Experi-
mental Social Psychology, 45, 404 – 409. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp
.2008.11.003
Funder, D. C. (1995). On the accuracy of personality judgment: A realistic
approach. Psychological Review, 102, 652– 670. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1037/0033-295X.102.4.652
Galinsky, A. D., Ku, G., & Wang, C. S. (2005). Perspective-taking and
self-other overlap: Fostering social bonds and facilitating social coordi-
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
569
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
nation. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 8, 109 –125. http://dx
.doi.org/10.1177/1368430205051060
Galinsky, A. D., Maddux, W. W., Gilin, D., & White, J. B. (2008). Why
it pays to get inside the head of your opponent: The differential effects
of perspective taking and empathy in negotiations. Psychological Sci-
ence, 19, 378 –384. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02096.x
Galinsky, A. D., Magee, J. C., Inesi, M. E., & Gruenfeld, D. H. (2006).
Power and perspectives not taken. Psychological Science, 17, 1068 –
1074. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01824.x
Galinsky, A. D., & Moskowitz, G. B. (2000). Perspective-taking: Decreas-
ing stereotype expression, stereotype accessibility, and in-group favor-
itism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 708 –724.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.78.4.708
Galinsky, A. D., & Mussweiler, T. (2001). First offers as anchors: The role
of perspective-taking and negotiator focus. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 81, 657– 669. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514
.81.4.657
Galinsky, A. D., Wang, C. S., & Ku, G. (2008). Perspective-takers behave
more stereotypically. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95,
404 – 419. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.95.2.404
Genschow, O., Florack, A., & Wänke, M. (2013). The power of movement:
Evidence for context-independent movement imitation. Journal of Ex-
perimental Psychology: General, 142, 763–773. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1037/a0029795
Gilbert, D. T., Killingsworth, M. A., Eyre, R. N., & Wilson, T. D. (2009).
The surprising power of neighborly advice. Science, 323, 1617–1619.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1166632
Gilin, D., Maddux, W. W., Carpenter, J., & Galinsky, A. D. (2013). When
to use your head and when to use your heart: The differential value of
perspective-taking versus empathy in competitive interactions. Person-
ality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 3–16. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1177/0146167212465320
Gino, F., & Flynn, F. (2011). Give them what they want: The benefits of
explicitness in gift exchange. Journal of Experimental Social Psychol-
ogy, 47, 915–922. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.015
Greenwald, A. G., Poehlman, T. A., Uhlmann, E. L., & Banaji, M. R.
(2009). Understanding and using the Implicit Association Test: III.
Meta-analysis of predictive validity. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 97, 17– 41. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0015575
Hall, J. A., Blanch, D. C., Horgan, T. G., Murphy, N. A., Rosip, J. C., &
Schmid Mast, M. (2009). Motivation and interpersonal sensitivity: Does
it matter how hard you try? Motivation and Emotion, 33, 291–302.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11031-009-9128-2
Hall, J. A., & Schmid Mast, M. (2007). Sources of accuracy in the
empathic accuracy paradigm. Emotion, 7, 438 – 446. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1037/1528-3542.7.2.438
Herrmann, E., Call, J., Herna
`ndez-Lloreda, M. V., Hare, B., & Tomasello,
M. (2007). Humans have evolved specialized skills of social cognition:
The cultural intelligence hypothesis. Science, 317, 1360 –1366. http://dx
.doi.org/10.1126/science.1146282
Hess, U., & Blairy, S. (2001). Facial mimicry and emotional contagion to
dynamic emotional facial expressions and their influence on decoding
accuracy. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 40, 129 –141.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8760(00)00161-6
Hoch, S. J. (1987). Perceived consensus and predictive accuracy: The pros
and cons of projection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
53, 221–234. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.53.2.221
Ickes, W. (1997). Empathic accuracy. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Jerison, H. J. (1971). More on why birds and mammals have big brains.
American Naturalist, 105, 185–189. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/282714
Jussim, L., Crawford, J. T., & Rubinstein, R. S. (2015). Stereotype (in)ac-
curacy in perceptions of groups and individuals. Current Directions in
Psychological Science, 24, 490 – 497. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0963
721415605257
Karniol, R. (2003). Egocentrism versus protocentrism: The status of self in
social prediction. Psychological Review, 110, 564 –580. http://dx.doi
.org/10.1037/0033-295X.110.3.564
Kenny, D. A. (1991). A general model of consensus and accuracy in
interpersonal perception. Psychological Review, 98, 155–163. http://dx
.doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.98.2.155
Macrae, C. N., Bodenhausen, G. V., Milne, A. B., & Jetten, J. (1994). Out
of mind but back in sight: Stereotype on the rebound. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 808 – 817. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1037/0022-3514.67.5.808
Maner, J. K., Luce, C. L., Neuberg, S. L., Cialdini, R. B., Brown, S., &
Sagarin, B. J. (2002). The effects of perspective taking on motivations
for helping: Still no evidence for altruism. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1601–1610. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/014
616702237586
Marist Poll. (2011). McClatchy-Marist poll for public opinion. Retrieved
from http://maristpoll.marist.edu/28-holy-super-powers-batman-mind-
reading-and-time-travel-top-list/
Niedenthal, P. M., Brauer, M., Halberstadt, J. B., & Innes-Ker, A. H.
(2001). When did her smile drop? Facial mimicry and the influences of
emotional state on the detection of change in emotional expression.
Cognition and Emotion, 15, 853– 864. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02699
930143000194
Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know:
Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84, 231–259.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.84.3.231
Nowicki, S., Jr., & Duke, M. P. (1994). Individual differences in the
nonverbal communication of affect: The Diagnostic Analysis of Non-
verbal Accuracy Scale. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 18, 9 –35. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02169077
Oberman, L. M., Winkielman, P., & Ramachandran, V. S. (2007). Face to
face: Blocking facial mimicry can selectively impair recognition of
emotional expressions. Social Neuroscience, 2, 167–178. http://dx.doi
.org/10.1080/17470910701391943
Oswald, F. L., Mitchell, G., Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., & Tetlock, P. E.
(2013). Predicting ethnic and racial discrimination: A meta-analysis of
IAT criterion studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
105, 171–192. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0032734
Payne, J. W., Bettman, J. R., & Johnson, E. J. (1988). Adaptive strategy
selection in decision making. Journal of Experimental Psychology:
Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 14, 534 –552. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1037/0278-7393.14.3.534
Pinker, S., & Bloom, P. (1990). Natural language and natural selection.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 13, 707–727. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/
S0140525X00081061
Pronin, E., & Ross, L. (2006). Temporal differences in trait self-ascription:
When the self is seen as an other. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 90, 197–209. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.90.2.197
Ramachandran, V. S. (2004). A brief tour of human consciousness: From
impostor poodles to purple numbers. New York, NY: Pi Press.
Ross, L., Greene, D., & House, P. (1977). The “false consensus effect”: An
egocentric bias in social perception and attribution processes. Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology, 13, 279 –301. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1016/0022-1031(77)90049-X
Ruben, M. A., & Hall, J. A. (2013). “I know your pain”: Proximal and
distal predictors of pain detection accuracy. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 39, 1346 –1358. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146
167213493188
Savitsky, K., Van Boven, L., Epley, N., & Wight, W. (2005). The unpack-
ing effect in allocations of responsibility for group tasks. Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 447– 457. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1016/j.jesp.2004.08.008
Schwarz. (1999). How the questions shape the answers. American Psy-
chologist, 54, 93–105. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037//0003-066X.54.2.93
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
570 EYAL, STEFFEL, AND EPLEY
Silverman, A., Gwinn, J., & Van Boven, L. (2015). Stumbling in their
shoes: Brief experience simulations reduce judged competency of the
disabled. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6, 464 – 471.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1948550614559650
Steffel, M., & LeBoeuf, R. (2014). Over-individuation in gift giving:
Shopping for multiple recipients leads givers to choose unique but less
preferred gifts. Journal of Consumer Research, 40, 1167–1180. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1086/674199
Stel, M., & van Knippenberg, A. (2008). The role of facial mimicry in the
recognition of affect. Psychological Science, 19, 984 –985. http://dx.doi
.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02188.x
Stinson, L., & Ickes, W. (1992). Empathic accuracy in the interactions of
male friends versus male strangers. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 62, 787–797. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.62.5.787
Swann, W. B., Jr., & Gill, M. J. (1997). Confidence and accuracy in person
perception: Do we know what we think we know about our relationship
partners? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 747–757.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.73.4.747
Teigen, K. H., Olsen, M. V. G., & Solås, O. E. (2005). Giver-receiver
asymmetries in gift preferences. British Journal of Social Psychology,
44, 125–144. http://dx.doi.org/10.1348/014466604X23428
Todd, A. R., Bodenhausen, G. V., Richeson, J. A., & Galinsky, A. D.
(2011). Perspective taking combats automatic expressions of racial bias.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 1027–1042. http://
dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0022308
Todd, A. R., Galinsky, A. D., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2012). Perspective-
taking undermines stereotype maintenance processes: Evidence from
social memory, behavior explanation, and information solicitation. So-
cial Cognition, 30, 94 –108. http://dx.doi.org/10.1521/soco.2012.30.1.94
Todd, A. R., Hanko, K., Galinsky, A. D., & Mussweiler, T. (2011). When
focusing on differences leads to similar perspectives. Psychological
Science, 22, 134 –141. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797610392929
Todorov, A., Olivola, C. Y., Dotsch, R., & Mende-Siedlecki, P. (2015).
Social attributions from faces: Determinants, consequences, accuracy,
and functional significance. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, 519 –545.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143831
Trötschel, R., Hüffmeier, J., Loschelder, D. D., Schwartz, K., & Gollwit-
zer, P. M. (2011). Perspective taking as a means to overcome motiva-
tional barriers in negotiations: When putting oneself into the opponent’s
shoes helps to walk toward agreements. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 101, 771–790. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0023801
Van Boven, L., Judd, C. M., & Sherman, D. K. (2012). Political polariza-
tion projection: Social projection of partisan attitude extremity and
attitudinal processes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
103, 84 –100. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028145
Van Doesum, N. J., Van Lange, D. A., & Van Lange, P. A. (2013). Social
mindfulness: Skill and will to navigate the social world. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 86 –103. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1037/a0032540
Vorauer, J. D., & Sasaki, S. J. (2009). Helpful only in the abstract?
Psychological Science, 20, 191–197. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-
9280.2009.02265.x
Vorauer, J. D., & Sucharyna, T. A. (2013). Potential negative effects of
perspective-taking efforts in the context of close relationships: Increased
bias and reduced satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psy-
chology, 104, 70 – 86. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0030184
Wade-Benzoni, K. A., Tenbrunsel, A. E., & Bazerman, M. H. (1996).
Egocentric interpretations of fairness in asymmetric, environmental so-
cial dilemmas: Explaining harvesting behavior and the role of commu-
nication. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 67,
111–126. http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/obhd.1996.0068
Yaniv, I., & Choshen-Hillel, S. (2012). When guessing what another
person would say is better than giving your own opinion: Using
perspective-taking to improve advice-taking. Journal of Experimental
Social Psychology, 48, 1022–1028. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2012
.03.016
Zhang, Y., & Epley, N. (2009). Self-centered social exchange: Differential
use of costs versus benefits in prosocial reciprocity. Journal of Person-
ality and Social Psychology, 97, 796 – 810. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/
a0016233
Zhang, Y., & Epley, N. (2012). Exaggerated, mispredicted, and misplaced:
When “it’s the thought that counts” in gift exchanges. Journal of
Experimental Psychology: General, 141, 667– 681. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1037/a0029223
Zhou, H., Majka, E. A., & Epley, N. (2017). Inferring perspective versus
getting perspective: Understanding the value of being in another per-
son’s shoes. Psychological Science, 28, 482– 493. http://dx.doi.org/10
.1177/0956797616687124
Received September 15, 2017
Revision received December 13, 2017
Accepted December 14, 2017
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
571
PERSPECTIVE MISTAKING
... Instead of relying on existing knowledge, gaining new information, by simply asking, can be a more effective strategy that can help understand another's experience. For example, getting another person's perspectives, by directly asking, increased interpersonal accuracy, whereas taking another person's perspective, by imagining their thoughts, did not (Eyal et al., 2018). Furthermore, the personal impact of emotion tends to wane over time, and incorrectly underestimating prior distress can cause people to evaluate those who are currently enduring similar struggles more harshly (Ruttan et al., 2015). ...
... On the flip side, not having had a similar past experience was associated with greater empathic accuracy. These results extend previous work that showed that egocentric bias (Damen et al. 2021a, b) and perspective taking without direct inquiry (perspective getting; Eyal et al., 2018) can undermine interpersonal accuracy, and that experience similarity can reduce compassion for others' distress (Ruttan et al., 2015). Although our data do not speak to this directly, one possibility is that the memory of one's own similar life experience may compete with the target's story, which may impose additional cognitive burden and/or bias the ways in which new social information is received. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Understanding other people’s thoughts and feelings is important for successful relationships. The current study examined potential benefits and pitfalls of experience similarity and mindful awareness in relation to accurate interpersonal understanding. Methods Participants (n = 77) watched a video of a speaker sharing a real-life story, rated the speaker’s emotions throughout the story, and recalled factual details of the story. Measures of accuracy included factual accuracy when recalling facts about the story and empathic accuracy in understanding the speaker’s feelings. Participants also indicated whether they did or did not have experiences in the past that were similar to the ones from the speaker’s video, and self-reported their levels of mindful attention and awareness. Results Having, compared to not having, a similar past life experience was associated with lower factual and empathic accuracy. Individuals with higher mindful attention and awareness were more likely to show higher empathic accuracy, being able to more accurately infer the speaker’s emotions throughout the story. This relationship was driven most strongly by individuals who did not have similar past experience as the speaker, such that mindfulness was associated with higher empathic accuracy only among individuals with no similar past experiences. Conclusions Experience similarity may diminish the benefit of mindfulness on the ability to accurately infer the target’s mental states. Considering potential pitfalls and biases that may hinder accurate interpersonal understanding can help provide skillful support that is most suited to the needs of specific individuals.
... However, instructing people to give psychological safety by taking another person's perspective may not necessarily increase accurate interpersonal understanding. Eyal et al. (2018) found that participants perceived that engaging in perspective-taking would increase their interpersonal accuracy. However, they found that in some conditions, perspective-taking decreased interpersonal accuracy on various tasks, including consumer attitudes, while increasing confidence in judgment. ...
Article
Full-text available
Interpersonal contexts can be complex since they can involve two or more people who are interdependent, each of whom is pursuing both individual and shared goals. Interactions consist of individual and joint behaviors that evolve dynamically over time. Interactions are likely to affect people’s attitudes because the interpersonal context gives the conversation partners a great deal of opportunity to intentionally or unintentionally influence each other. However, despite the importance of attitudes and attitude change in interpersonal interactions, this topic remains understudied. We briefly review the features of interpersonal contexts and build the case that understanding people’s sense of psychological safety is key to understanding interpersonal influences on people’s attitudes. Specifically, feeling psychologically safe can make individuals more open-minded, increase reflective introspection, and decrease defensive processing. Psychological safety impacts how individuals think, make sense of their social world, and process attitude-relevant information. These processes can result in attitude change, even without any attempt at persuasion. We review the literature on interpersonal threats, receiving psychological safety, providing psychological safety, and interpersonal dynamics. We then detail the shortcomings of current approaches, highlight the unanswered questions, and suggest avenues for future research that can contribute to developing this field.
... However, instructing people to give psychological safety by taking another person's perspective may not necessarily increase accurate interpersonal understanding. Eyal et al. (2018) found that participants perceived that engaging in perspective-taking would increase their interpersonal accuracy. However, they found that in some conditions, perspective-taking decreased interpersonal accuracy on various tasks, including consumer attitudes, while increasing confidence in judgment. ...
Article
Interpersonal contexts can be complex since they can involve two or more people who are interdependent, each of whom is pursuing both individual and shared goals. Interactions consist of individual and joint behaviors that evolve dynamically over time. Interactions are likely to affect people’s attitudes because the interpersonal context gives the conversation partners a great deal of opportunity to intentionally or unintentionally influence each other. However, despite the importance of attitudes and attitude change in interpersonal interactions, this topic remains understudied. We briefly review the features of interpersonal contexts and build the case that understanding people’s sense of psychological safety is key to understanding interpersonal influences on people’s attitudes. Specifically, feeling psychologically safe can make individuals more open-minded, increase reflective introspection, and decrease defensive processing. Psychological safety impacts how individuals think, make sense of their social world, and process attitude-relevant information. These processes can result in attitude change, even without any attempt at persuasion. We review the literature on interpersonal threats, receiving psychological safety, providing psychological safety, and interpersonal dynamics. We then detail the shortcomings of current approaches, highlight the unanswered questions, and suggest avenues for future research that can contribute to developing this field.