An Exploratory Investigation of the Process of Perspective Taking in Interpersonal Situations
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The ability to take the perspectives of others is considered a pre-requisite for effective interpersonal interaction. Despite extensive investigation into the correlates of perspective taking, there have been few previous attempts to understand the process by which people take another’s psychological point of view. The purpose of this exploratory study was to identify the strategies used by individuals when attempting to take the perspective of another person. Twelve participants discussed a time they engaged in perspective taking. The analysis revealed that perspective taking was used in situations in which significant negative emotions could arise, and that participants shifted between the use of self-information (e.g., switching places, past experience) and other-information (e.g., target’s personal characteristics) during the process of perspective taking. Different emotions and cognitions were associated with taking one’s own perspective and taking that of the other person. The study provides a direct consideration of an under-investigated component of social and personal relationships.