Perspective-Taking in Referential Communication: Does Stimulated Attention to Addressee’s Perspective Influence Speakers’ Reference Production?


We investigated whether speakers’ referential communication benefits from an explicit focus on addressees’ perspective. Dyads took part in a referential communication game and were allocated to one of three experimental settings. Each of these settings elicited a different perspective mindset (none, self-focus, other-focus). In the two perspective settings, speakers were explicitly instructed to regard their addressee’s (other-focus) or their own (self-focus) perspective before construing their referential message. Results indicated that eliciting speakers’ self- versus other-focus did not influence their reference production. We did find that speakers with an elicited egocentric perspective reported a higher perspective-taking tendency than speakers in the other two settings. This tendency correlated with actual referring behavior during the game, indicating that speakers who reported a high perspective-taking tendency were less likely to make egocentric errors such as leaking information privileged to speakers themselves. These findings are explained using the objective self-awareness theory.

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