Eye movements reveal sustained implicit processing of others' mental states

Schneider, Dana, Bayliss, Andrew P., Becker, Stefanie I. and Dux, Paul E. (2012) Eye movements reveal sustained implicit processing of others' mental states. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141 3: 1-6. doi:10.1037/a0025458

Author Schneider, Dana
Bayliss, Andrew P.
Becker, Stefanie I.
Dux, Paul E.
Title Eye movements reveal sustained implicit processing of others' mental states
Journal name Journal of Experimental Psychology: General   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0096-3445
Publication date 2012-01-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1037/a0025458
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 141
Issue 3
Start page 1
End page 6
Total pages 6
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher American Psychological Association
Language eng
Abstract The ability to attribute mental states to others is crucial for social competency. To assess mentalizing abilities, in false-belief tasks participants attempt to identify an actor’s belief about an object’s location as opposed to the object’s actual location. Passing this test on explicit measures is typically achieved by 4 years of age, but recent eye movement studies reveal registration of others’ beliefs by 7 to 15 months. Consequently, a 2-path mentalizing system has been proposed, consisting of a late developing, cognitively demanding component and an early developing, implicit/automatic component. To date, investigations on the implicit system have been based on single-trial experiments only or have not examined how it operates across time. In addition, no study has examined the extent to which participants are conscious of the belief states of others during these tasks. Thus, the existence of a distinct implicit mentalizing system is yet to be demonstrated definitively. Here we show that adults engaged in a primary unrelated task display eye movement patterns consistent with mental state attributions across a sustained temporal period. Debriefing supported the hypothesis that this mentalizing was implicit. It appears there indeed exists a distinct implicit mental state attribution system.
Keyword Mental state attributions
Theory of mind
Eye movements
Social cognition
Implicit cognitive processes
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Online First Publication, 12 September 2011.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Created: Mon, 19 Mar 2012, 03:41:24 EST by Mrs Alison Pike on behalf of School of Psychology