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Motivational antecedents of perspective taking

Social Processes Lab


Since September 2008 - December 2012


The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)


Perspective taking, that is, intuiting the perceptual, cognitive or emotional experiences of other individuals is a central component of successful social interaction and can be especially relevant in virtual contexts. Research on perspective taking has focused mainly on the positive consequences of perspective taking. However, little is known about motivational influences on perspective taking, especially on influences of different self-regulatory strategies on perspective taking.
The current project and Claudia Sassenrath’s PhD thesis thus investigated the preconditions of perspective taking as a goal-determined behavior. We focused on promotion vs. prevention strategies (i.e., success- or security-oriented self-regulation) as well as approach vs. avoidance tendencies and warm vs. cold temperatures.
Results indicated that avoidance strategies, a promotion focus, or cold temperatures facilitate the differentiation between one’s own and the other person’s perspective, thereby improving perspective taking (compared to approach strategies, a prevention focus, or warm temperatures). Follow-up studies on the consequences of perspective taking for hygienic behavior in health service are being conducted at the University of Ulm by Dr. Claudia Sassenrath and Prof. Dr. Johannes Keller.


Dr. Claudia Sassenrath, Ulm University


  • Sassenrath, C., Sassenberg, K., & Scholl, A. (2014). From a distance …: The impact of approach and avoidance motivational orientation on perspective taking. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 18-26.
  • Sassenrath, C., Sassenberg, K., & Semin, G. (2013). Cool, but understanding.. Experiencing cooler temperatures promotes perspective-taking performance. Acta Psychologica, 143, 245-251