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The process of interpersonal perspective taking
journal contributionposted on 24.08.2020, 00:00 by Adam Gerace, A Day, S Casey, P Mohr
particularly important and complex role to play in the clinician-client relationship, particularly in mental health nursing. However, despite extensive investigation into the outcomes of this construct (e.g. sympathy, altruism), the process by which people take another’s psychological point of view has received comparatively little attention. The purpose of this study was to investigate what the individual does when attempting to take the perspective of another person. The aims were to identify the specific strategies people used to accomplish this task, to consider how and why these strategies were chosen, and the relationship between the strategies and subsequent outcomes. Participants described an example of their own perspective-taking experience. Adopting an interpretive phenomenological approach, analysis resulted in the generation of several themes of direct relevance to both the perspective-taking process and the wider empathic experience. Of particular importance were two superordinate themes, use of other-information and use of self-information. One significant subordinate theme (within use of self-information) to emerge was that of past experience, where the participant had experienced either (a) a similar role to that which they occupied in the present situation, or (b) a similar situation to that of the target person. Both of these experiences were determinants of how easy participants perceived the task of apprehending the target’s perspective. Within the wider empathic experience, themes included emotional manifestations (e.g. sympathy), as well as judgements of appropriate behaviours. Implications of findings when working in clinical and mental-health settings are discussed.