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Open AccessArticle

Implicit Mentalising during Level-1 Visual Perspective-Taking Indicated by Dissociation with Attention Orienting

1
Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish Street, London W1W 6UW, UK
2
School of Psychology, University of East London, Stratford Campus, Water Lane, London E15 7LZ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 December 2017 / Revised: 8 January 2018 / Accepted: 17 January 2018 / Published: 20 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflexive Shifts in Visual Attention)
Experiments demonstrating level-1 visual perspective-taking have been interpreted as providing important evidence for ‘implicit mentalising’—the ability to track simple mental states in a fast and efficient manner. However, this interpretation has been contested by a rival ‘submentalising’ account that proposes that these experiments can be explained by the general purpose mechanisms responsible for attentional orienting. Here, we aim to discriminate between these competing accounts by examining whether a gaze aversion manipulation expected to enhance attention orienting would have similar effects on both perspective-taking and attention orienting tasks. Gaze aversion was operationalised by manipulating head position relative to torso of the avatar figures employed in two experiments (gaze-averted vs. gaze-maintained). Experiment 1 used a Posner cueing task to establish that gaze aversion enhanced attention orienting cued by these avatars. Using the avatar task, Experiment 2 revealed level-1 visual perspective-taking effects of equivalent magnitude for gaze-averted and gaze-maintained conditions. These results indicate that gaze aversion moderated attention orienting but not perspective-taking. This dissociation in performance favours implicit mentalising by casting doubt on the submentalising account. It further constrains theorising by implying that attention orienting is not integral to the system permitting the relatively automatic tracking of mental states. View Full-Text
Keywords: social attention; attention orienting; visual perspective-taking; Theory of Mind; implicit mentalising social attention; attention orienting; visual perspective-taking; Theory of Mind; implicit mentalising
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Gardner, M.R.; Bileviciute, A.P.; Edmonds, C.J. Implicit Mentalising during Level-1 Visual Perspective-Taking Indicated by Dissociation with Attention Orienting. Vision 2018, 2, 3.

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