Altercentric interference in level 1 visual perspective taking reflects the ascription of mental states, not submentalizing

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2016 Feb;42(2):158-63. doi: 10.1037/xhp0000138. Epub 2015 Sep 21.


A growing body of work suggests that in some circumstances, humans may be capable of ascribing mental states to others in a way that is fast, cognitively efficient, and implicit (implicit mentalizing hypothesis). However, the interpretation of this work has recently been challenged by suggesting that the observed effects may reflect "submentalizing" effects of attention and memory, with no ascription of mental states (submentalizing hypothesis). The present study employed a strong test between these hypotheses by examining whether apparently automatic processing of another's visual perspective is influenced by experience-dependent beliefs about whether that person can see. Altercentric interference was observed when participants judged their own perspective on stimuli involving an avatar wearing goggles that participants believed to be transparent but not when they believed the goggles to be opaque. These results are consistent with participants ascribing mental states to the avatar and not with the submentalizing hypothesis that altercentric interference arises merely because avatars cue shifts in spatial attention. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Theory of Mind / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult