The influence of task instruction on implicit Theory of Mind

Nott, Zoie (2012). The influence of task instruction on implicit Theory of Mind Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Nott, Zoie
Thesis Title The influence of task instruction on implicit Theory of Mind
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-10-10
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Paul Dux
Total pages 87
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Theory of Mind (ToM) is the ability to recognise and reason about the beliefs and mental processes of others. It has been demonstrated to operate not only explicitly via overt responses during the Sally-Anne False-Belief paradigm but also implicitly when participants’ eye-movements are measured in such tasks without belief tracking instructions administered. Based on these findings, the two-system model (Apperley & Butterfill, 2009), proposes that ToM is subserved by two distinct modules: an implicit, inflexible yet efficient, early-developing system for rapid social processing and a later-developing, explicit system for demanding social analysis. Little empirical research has however, empirically tested the nature of the early-developing system. The present study included 84 undergraduate students and examined the influence of task instruction on participant’s anticipatory eye movements during an implicit Sally-Anne False-Belief task. Participants were assigned to one of three conditions, no instruction (control), belief-tracking or ball-tracking. Participants in the no instruction condition passively viewed a movie where an actor watched a puppet move a ball between two opaque boxes. In the ball-tracking condition participants indicated the location of the hidden ball target and participants in the belief-tracking condition were asked to indicate where they thought the actor would look for the hidden ball target (which the actor either had a true- or false-belief regarding its location). Control participants demonstrated implicit belief tracking, in that they fixated longer on the location related to this agent’s false belief even when the ball target was not at this location. Compared to the control condition, this effect was eliminated in the ball-tracking group and enhanced in the belief-tracking group. These findings indicate that implicit ToM processing is not an encapsulated process, as described by Apperly and Butterfill (2009), but rather influenced by top-down processing mechanisms.
Keyword Theory Of Mind
Influence of task instruction

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Created: Thu, 07 Mar 2013, 22:10:18 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology