Can emotions influence level-1 visual perspective taking?

Cogn Neurosci. 2016 Jan-Oct;7(1-4):182-91. doi: 10.1080/17588928.2015.1043879. Epub 2015 May 15.


Emotions and perspective-taking are ubiquitous in our daily social interactions, but little is known about the relation between the two. This study examined whether and how emotions can influence even the most basic forms of perspective-taking. Experiment 1 showed that guilt made participants more other-centered in a simple visual perspective-taking task while anger tended to make them more self-centered. These two emotions had, however, no effect on the ability to handle conflicting perspectives. Since the guilt induction method used in Experiment 1 also induced feelings of self-incompetence and shame, Experiment 2 aimed at isolating the effects of these concomitant feelings. Self-incompetence/shame reduced participants' ability to handle conflicting perspectives but did not influence attention allocation. In sum, these results highlight that emotions can affect even the simplest form of perspective-taking and that such influence can be brought about by the modulation of different cognitive mechanisms.

Keywords: Anger; Empathy; Guilt; Perspective-taking; Shame; Theory of mind.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Empathy / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Perception*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult