Listeners invest in an assumed other's perspective despite cognitive cost


We explored perspective-taking behavior in a visuospatial mental rotation task that requires listeners to adopt an egocentric or " other-centric" frame of reference. In the current task, objects could be interpreted relative to the point-of-view of the listener (egocentric) or of a simulated partner (other-centric). Across three studies, we evaluated participants' willingness to consider and act on partner-specific information, showing that a partner's perceived ability to contribute to collaborative mutual understanding modulated participants' perspective-taking behavior, either by increasing other-centric (Study 2) or egocentric (Study 3) responding. Moreover, we show that a large proportion of participants resolved referential ambiguity in terms of their partner's perspective, even when it was more cognitively difficult to do so (as tracked by online movement measures), and when the presence of a social partner had to be assumed (Studies 1 and 2). In addition, participants continued to consider their partner's perspective during trials where visual perspectives were shared. Our results show that participants will thoroughly invest in either an other-centric or egocentric mode of responding, and that perspective-taking strategies are not always dictated by minimizing processing demands, but by more potent (albeit subtle) factors in the social context. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Publication Title