TOMA DE PERSPECTIVA Y TEORÍA DE LA MENTE: ASPECTOS CONCEPTUALES Y EMPÍRICOS.
María Jesús Martín García*, Inmaculada Gómez-Becerra*, Mapy Chávez-Brown**, Douglas Greer***
The present work completes an exhaustive revision of the delimitation of the ability of perspective taking from different points of view. First, perspective taking isdefined as the ability of an individual to interpret his/hers emotional and mental states and those of others. Additionally, the term has also been used in medical settings to refer to a tactic intended to stop certain limiting feeling and/or thoughts and instead move feelings and thoughts towards a different direction. At the same time, perspective taking is considered to be at the heart ofpsychological phenomena such as empathy, that is, the capacity to distinguish what individuals know about themselves in a certain situation (how someone thinks, feels and behaves), self-awareness, interpersonal relations, and various social skills deficits. Second, this ability is conceptualized as a meta-cognition and it is assumed that the object of study is the theory of the mind. Third, from adevelopmental perspective, data have shown that children four to five years old, without any psychological disabilities, have the ability to take somebody else’s perspective. We reviewed different studies regarding the development of the abilities to express and interpret emotions as precursors to perspective taking. Subsequently, we revised and analyzed the tests or strategies most commonly used toevaluate the ability of perspective taking. Typically, the capacity of an individual to have “a theory of the mind” is determined through tests of false beliefs (such as the classic test of Sally-Anne, the “Smarties” test, “M&M’s”, and the “Maxi’s” Test). Multiple variations of the tests of false beliefs have been conducted with flashcards or photographs, with characters in oral stories, and throughthe use of games. Additionally, over the last few years the focus of this body of research has evolved towards the elaboration and validation instruments to measure empathy. Among them are the tests of Empathy Quotient (EQ), the Friendship Questionnaire (FQ), and reading the “mind” in the eyes. It is important to note that these efforts have been focused mostly on individuals with Asperger’sSyndrome or those with higher verbal capabilities. From this latter perspective, we propose empirical evidence that points out to differences in the ability of perspective taking
between children with or without autism. This is also shown in the results of previous studies, in which different levels of perspective taking skills were seen between children diagnosed with autism, and those diagnosedwith Down Syndrome. It is important to note that this was not true when their verbal skills were not considered as a variable. Likewise, other studies showed that children with autism were not the only ones that failed the theory of the mind tests, but that these tests were also failed by those children with deficits in language and cognitive skills. In this article, we present the results of astudy that replicates previous findings which show that typical developing children perform better in perspective taking tests, followed by children diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and subsequently by children with autism. It was also noted that the typical developing children showed the highest level of verbal discrimination, followed by the children diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and finally thechildren diagnosed with autism. One important finding in this study is that all children benefited from the use of contextual prompts, which improved the number of correct responses across all the theory of the mind tests. Additionally, the data varied depending on the type of tests utilized to measure perspective taking skills. In this article, we have also reviewed the different explanations for the...