Perspective-taking from a social neuroscience standpoint

Malia F. Mason, C. Neil Macrae

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

21 Citations (Scopus)


A primary focus of research undertaken by social psychologists is to establish why perceivers fail to accurately adopt or understand other people's perspectives. From overestimating the dispositional bases of behavior to misinterpreting the motivations of out-group members, the message that emerges from this work is that social perception is frequently imperfect. In contrast, researchers from disciplines outside social psychology seek to identify the strategies and skill sets required to successfully understand other people's perspectives. These investigations attempt to identify the mechanisms through which perceivers intuit mental states that underlie behavior (e.g. wants, motivations, beliefs). In this article, we review findings from perspective-taking research in developmental psychology, primatology (i.e. primate cognition) and cognitive neuroscience. We then discuss why understanding how accurate perspective-taking occurs may inform understanding of when and why this process fails.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-232
Number of pages18
JournalGroup Processes & Intergroup Relations: GPIR
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • intentionality
  • person perception
  • perspective taking
  • social cognition
  • social cognitive neuroscience
  • social neuroscience
  • Theory of Mind (ToM)
  • medial prefrontal cortex
  • joint visual-attention
  • temporal cortex
  • eye contact
  • individual-differences
  • neural representation
  • cognitive-development
  • nonhuman-primates
  • ongoing behavior
  • young-children


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