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Egocentrism and Automatic Perspective Taking in Children and Adults

Authors


  • The authors would like to thank Jessica Wang and Dana Samson for comments on an earlier draft of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Andrew D. R. Surtees, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK. Electronic mail may be sent to a.surtees@bham.ac.uk.

Abstract

Children (aged 6–10) and adults (total N = 136) completed a novel visual perspective-taking task that allowed quantitative comparisons across age groups. All age groups found it harder to judge the other person’s perspective when it differed from their own. This egocentric interference did not decrease with age, even though, overall, performance improved. In addition, it was more difficult to judge one’s own perspective when it differed from that of the other person, suggesting that the other’s perspective was processed even though it interfered with self-perspective judgments. In a logically equivalent, nonsocial task, the same degree of interference was not observed. These findings are discussed in relation to recent findings suggesting precocious theory-of-mind abilities in infancy.

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