A cross-culture, cross-gender comparison of perspective taking mechanisms

Klaus Kessler, Liyu Cao, Kieran J. O'Shea, Hongfang Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Being able to judge another person's visuo-spatial perspective is an essential social skill, hence we investigated the generalizability of the involved mechanisms across cultures and genders. Developmental, cross-species, and our own previous research suggest that two different forms of perspective taking can be distinguished, which are subserved by two distinct mechanisms. The simpler form relies on inferring another's line-of-sight, whereas the more complex form depends on embodied transformation into the other's orientation in form of a simulated body rotation. Our current results suggest that, in principle, the same basic mechanisms are employed by males and females in both, East-Asian (EA; Chinese) and Western culture. However, we also confirmed the hypothesis that Westerners show an egocentric bias, whereas EAs reveal an other-oriented bias. Furthermore, Westerners were slower overall than EAs and showed stronger gender differences in speed and depth of embodied processing. Our findings substantiate differences and communalities in social cognition mechanisms across genders and two cultures and suggest that cultural evolution or transmission should take gender as a modulating variable into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140388
JournalProceeding of the Royal Society: Series B
Issue number1785
Early online date22 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2014

Bibliographical note

© 2014 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: ESRC [RES-000-22-4325]


  • culture differences
  • egocentric bias
  • embodied transformation
  • gender differences
  • line of sight
  • perspective taking


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