Developmental and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Seminar (Speaker: Jessica Wang)

Frankland 309b
Life and Environmental Sciences, Research
Monday 10th November 2014 (13:00-14:00)
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Why is it sometimes difficult to take account of a speaker's perspective?

Part of the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Seminar Series

Speaker: Jessica Wang, University of Birmingham

Theory of Mind-use in the Director task: Factors Affecting the Level of Egocentrism Observed in Behavioral Responses and Eye Movements

The perspective-taking literature presents a dilemma: whilst adults are often egocentric (Keysar et al., 2003), 6-year-olds appear sensitive in distinguishing common versus privileged ground (Nadig and Sedivy, 2002). We identified three possible sources of these different levels of egocentrism within the Director task, corresponding to varied demands one faces in everyday social situations.

Results suggest firstly, participants made many more egocentric errors when they had to infer for themselves that perspectival information was necessary to resolve reference. Secondly, the magnitude of common versus privileged ground only had a general effect on response time, but no direct effect on egocentrism. Finally, more egocentric effects were seen in eye movements when the Director gave more complex instructions for participants to follow.

Variation in these factors explains observed variation in egocentrism across experimental studies, and identifies likely sources of everyday difficulty in theory of mind-use.