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Perceived Perspective Taking: When Others Walk in Our Shoes

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A great deal of psychological research has investigated the influence of perspective taking on individuals, indicating that perspective taking increases the extent to which people like, feel a sense of self-other overlap with, and help those whose perspective they take. However, previous investigations of the topic have been limited to the study of the perspective taker, rather than the individual whose perspective has been taken. The purpose of the current work is to begin to fill this large gap in the literature by examining the consequences of believing that another individual is taking one's perspective, a phenomenon we refer to as perceived perspective taking. Over a series of 6 experiments, we demonstrate that perceiving that one's perspective has been taken confers many of the same interpersonal benefits as taking another's perspective. Specifically, our data suggest that believing that another person has successfully taken one's perspective results in an increased liking for, a greater sense of self-other overlap with, and more help provided to that person. Consistent with predictions, we find that one's self-other overlap with the perspective taker and the amount of empathy one perceives the perspective taker to feel operate in tandem to mediate the link between perceived perspective taking and liking for the perspective taker. Further, a mediational path from perceived perspective taking to helping behavior through liking is supported. Future directions are discussed, along with implications for theory and application in domains such as intergroup relations, conflict resolution, and political campaigning.

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