School of Psychology PhD student Brad Mattan is lead author on a new paper published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognitionon the topic of perspective taking. 

Brad’s paper challenges existing approaches to perspective taking that identify the self solely as a first-person perspective. 

The authors argue that the previously observed tendency to favour an avatar’s third-person perspective over the self’s first-person perspective may have resulted from differences in gaze cues.  In other words, the avatar’s features (e.g., eyes, nose) bias attention toward the avatar’s perspective and away from the first-person perspective.  This is contrary to existing research suggesting that self-related stimuli should be processed with greater ease.

To address this discrepancy, Brad developed a novel paradigm equating for gaze cues by presenting participants with two avatars, one for the self and one for another person. Participants more efficiently processed the self-avatar’s perspective over the other-avatar’s perspective, contrasting with previous findings suggesting the other’s perspective is prioritised over the self’s.

It is concluded that gaze cues are an important aspect of perspective taking that must be accounted for in understanding the motivated prioritisation of self-relevant perspectives.

Now in the final year of his PhD, Brad is researching the neuro-cognitive processes supporting the way we process people, objects, and information associated with the self in the Social Cognition Lab, headed by social psychologist, Dr Kimberly Quinn.  Brad is co-supervised by cognitive neuroscientist, Dr Pia Rotshtein.

This paper resulted from the work of Brad and his PhD supervisors in collaboration with Professor Ian Apperly (University of Birmingham) and Dr Jie Sui (University of Oxford, Tsinghua University).

This research was also featured on the American Psychological Association's Particularly Exciting Experiments in Psychology (PeePS) website. View the PeePS article on this research.

Experimental paradigm. Participants were assigned to either the blue or the green avatar. Each trial prompted them to adopt either the self- or the other-avatar's perspective. Response time and accuracy rates were analysed.

Self-Tagging and Perspective-Taking


Mattan, B., Quinn, K. A., Apperly, I. A., Sui, J., & Rotshtein, P. (Dec. 22, 2014). Is it always me first? The effects of self-tagging on third-person perspective-taking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Advance Access. doi:10.1037/xlm0000078