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Cognition. 2009 Jan;110(1):124-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.10.008. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Embodied and disembodied cognition: spatial perspective-taking.

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Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-2130, USA.


Although people can take spatial perspectives different from their own, it is widely assumed that egocentric perspectives are natural and have primacy. Two studies asked respondents to describe the spatial relations between two objects on a table in photographed scenes; in some versions, a person sitting behind the objects was either looking at or reaching for one of the objects. The mere presence of another person in a position to act on the objects induced a good proportion of respondents to describe the spatial relations from that person's point of view (Experiment 1). When the query about the spatial relations was phrased in terms of action, more respondents took the other's perspective than their own (Experiment 2). The implication of action elicits spontaneous spatial perspective-taking, seemingly in the service of understanding the other's actions.

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