Perspective taking in children and adults: Equivalent egocentrism but differential correction

Published on Nov 1, 2004in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
· DOI :10.1016/J.JESP.2004.02.002
Nicholas Epley46
Estimated H-index: 46
(Harvard University),
Carey K. Morewedge26
Estimated H-index: 26
(Harvard University),
Boaz Keysar42
Estimated H-index: 42
(U of C: University of Chicago)
Children generally behave more egocentrically than adults when assessing another's perspective. We argue that this difference does not, however, indicate that adults process information less egocentrically than children, but rather that adults are better able to subsequently correct an initial egocentric interpretation. An experiment tracking participants' eye movements during a referential communication task indicated that children and adults were equally quick to interpret a spoken instruction egocentrically but differed in the speed with which they corrected that interpretation and looked at the intended (i.e., non-egocentric) object. The existing differences in egocentrism between children and adults therefore seems less a product of where people start in their perspective taking process than where they stop, with lingering egocentric biases among adults produced by insufficient correction of an automatic moment of egocentrism. We suggest that this pattern of similarity in automatic, but not controlled, processes may explain between-group differences in a variety of dual-process judgments.
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