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A Critical Examination of Spontaneous Perspective Taking

Millett, Abbie C (2019) A Critical Examination of Spontaneous Perspective Taking. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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A number of authors have identified an extension of Theory of Mind (ToM) termed as ‘spontaneous perspective taking’, in which another’s visual perspective is computed both ‘rapidly’ and ‘spontaneously’ (Samson, Apperly, Braithwaite, Andrews, & Bodley Scott, 2010). The current work examines this notion. Experiments 1 and 2 employed the ambiguous number paradigm with different manipulations of attention. Evidence was found to suggest the spontaneous assumption of another’s visual perspective. However, most importantly, this effect was also identified during conditions when, as the visual perspective taking theory would predict, it should not be apparent. Alternatively, Experiment 3 was unable to identify this effect using a variant of the dot perspective task. The next two experiments increased the measurement sensitivity of spontaneous visual perspective taking using eye movements. Again, similar patterns in the data were identified when the phenomenon should not have been exhibited. Next, Experiments 6 and 7, assessed whether the notion is routed within ToM through experimentation on young children. The developmental findings were unclear, however there were indications that the concept is progressively improved with age. Subsequently, Experiments 8, 9, and 10 adapted the examination of this notion by investigating whether perceived ownership had any effects. Initially, using a novel single response method no significant results were found. However, when using standardised response time measures it was suggested that individuals were exhibiting a spontaneous visual perspective taking response, irrespective of perceived ownership. Lastly, Experiments 11, 12, and 13 introduced an alternative theory suggesting that the agent, as well as any other orientation cue, act as a reference point that anchors and orientates the image. Overall, the present findings challenge the spontaneous visual perspective taking theory; as a number of alternative concepts have also been suggested to contribute towards this phenomenon.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Theory of Mind; Perspective Taking; Automaticity; Attention; Gaze Following
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Abbie Millett
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2019 15:55
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 15:55

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