One of the hallmarks of psychological maturity is a "theory of mind" that allows one to understand that other people, particularly those in different situations, have feelings, preferences, and behavioral inclinations that are different from one's own. Having just gorged on Ritz crackers and Velveeta cheese, one expects that someone who has not eaten in several hours is hungrier than oneself. And even though one may have just received good news that a manuscript was accepted, there is no surprise when someone whose grant was not funded is not elated about one's success. In each of these situations, a theory of mind creates the recognition and anticipation that, because others are in a different affective situation, they feel, think, and behave differently than oneself.
Such "emotional perspective taking" is ubiquitous in everyday life, and doing it well is important for social interactions. This chapter describes a simple, dual-judgment model of how—and how well—people engage in emotional perspective taking. The chapter also describes recent studies that test a key implication of the model: that errors and biases in predicting one's own reactions to emotional situations produce corresponding errors and biases in predicting others' reactions to emotional situations.
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