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dc.contributor.advisorHalberstadt, Jamin
dc.contributor.authorColombo, Marea Susanna
dc.identifier.citationColombo, M. S. (2018). Keeping your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer: Group Membership and Theory of Mind (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractTheory of Mind (ToM) is the understanding that other individuals have thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that differ from our own. Most research on ToM has focussed on the development this concept and the associated skills required to use it, both of which are, typically, firmly in place by adulthood. Yet evidence from ToM related fields, such as attributions and empathy, suggest that adults fail to use their ToM consistently. Why, if adults have the conceptual understanding and cognitive infrastructure needed to employ sophisticated ToM reasoning, do they often fail to take others’ perspectives? In this thesis I propose that because many of the requisite ToM skills are cognitively effortful, some of the variance in adult ToM use is attributable to motivation: people will not use ToM unless they want or need to. Specifically, I investigate one plausible motivational factor for ToM use in adults – group membership using gender identity as a salient test case. In 7 studies I examined ToM use in all three presumed components of ToM: visual, cognitive, and affective. Visual ToM was measured on an improved version (developed in Experiments 1 and 2) of Dumontheil, Apperly, and Blakemore's (2010) “Director Task,” in which participants are instructed by a same- or opposite-gender director to point to objects in a grid, some of which are occluded from the director’s view; performance thus requires that the participant consider the director’s visual perspective. Cognitive ToM was assessed, in Experiments 5 and 6, by probing participants reasoning for their choices in a “rock, paper, scissors” task against a same- or opposite-gender opponent. Affective ToM was assessed, in Experiment 7, using a standardized “empathic accuracy” task (Ickes, Stinson, Bissonnette, & Garcia, 1990), in which participant try to identify emotions felt by same- and opposite-gender targets on video, who themselves had previously stated what they were feeling. I found differential effects of group membership on ToM, as a function of the domain being tested. Participants in Experiments 3 and 4 were better able to take the director’s perspective when the director was of the opposite gender than of the same gender, and there was some evidence that the difference was attributable to reduced motivation when working with the same-gender director. There was also some evidence, in Experiment 5, for out-group ToM in the cognitive domain, but only for female participants. I speculated that the asymmetry was explainable by men’s and women’s differential perceived power in the paradigm, but a subsequent study (Experiment 6) failed to replicate the effects when power was manipulated directly. There was no evidence for gender (in)congruent ToM in the affective domain. The variation between the studies raises important theoretical and empirical questions. I discuss two key differences between the ways in which ToM was operationalized and measured in these domains. First, I outline how the method of measuring ToM different between the studies; whereas in some studies I inferred ToM from participants’ responses or behaviour (visual and affective ToM), in other studies, I explicitly asked participants to explain their behaviour, and coded these explanations for ToM content (cognitive ToM). Second, I discuss how the social context—whether the task was competitive or cooperative—differed between the studies and may have differentially affected our assessment across the three domains. Finally, I suggest that these variations provide ambiguity not only in my own research, but in the assessment of ToM more generally.  
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectTheory of Mind
dc.subjectVisual Perspective-Taking
dc.subjectCognitive Perspective-Taking
dc.subjectAffective Perspective-Taking
dc.subjectGroup Membership
dc.titleKeeping your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer: Group Membership and Theory of Mind
dc.language.rfc3066en of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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