, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 207-234

A New Perspective on Perspective Taking: A Multidimensional Approach to Conceptualizing an Aptitude

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Abstract

Social perspective taking (SPT) is thought to be important in its own right and is often associated with other important skills, such as interpersonal conflict resolution. Previous research on SPT, however, has conceptualized it as a unidimensional construct leaving scholars with an insufficient understanding of this aptitude and how it relates to valued educational outcomes. To best understand SPT, a multidimensional approach should include assessments of personal characteristics (including the propensity and the ability to engage in SPT) and features of the situation (including features of the SPT task and the larger context). Using Richard Snow's conceptualization of aptitudes as a framework, this article illustrates the problems with treating SPT as a unidimensional construct, defines SPT as a complex aptitude, and provides a taxonomy of SPT to promote understanding and to guide future research in this area. The taxonomy organizes and reviews the existing literature that relates personal and situational characteristics to SPT aptitude. Where research has not yet been conducted, this article hypothesizes how these characteristics might relate to SPT aptitude.