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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Time pressure disrupts level-2, but not level-1, visual perspective calculation: A process-dissociation analysis.

  • Author(s): Todd, Andrew R
  • Simpson, Austin J
  • Cameron, C Daryl
  • et al.

Reasoning about other people's mental states has long been assumed to require active deliberation. Yet, evidence from indirect measures suggests that adults and children commonly display behavior indicative of having incidentally calculated both what other agents see (level-1 perspective taking) and how they see it (level-2 perspective taking). Here, we investigated the efficiency of such perspective calculation in adults. In four experiments using indirect measures of visual perspective taking, we imposed time pressure to constrain processing opportunity, and we used process-dissociation analyses to isolate perspective calculation as the process of focal interest. Results revealed that time pressure weakened level-2, but not level-1, perspective calculation-a pattern that was not evident in error-rate analyses. These findings suggest that perspective calculation may operate more efficiently in level-1 than in level-2 perspective taking. They also highlight the utility of the process-dissociation framework for unmasking processes that otherwise may go under-detected in behavior-level analyses.

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