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In the Mood to Get Over Yourself: Mood Affects Theory-of-Mind Use Benjamin A. Converse, Shuhong Lin, Boaz Keysar, and Nicholas Epley
 

Summary: In the Mood to Get Over Yourself: Mood Affects Theory-of-Mind Use
Benjamin A. Converse, Shuhong Lin, Boaz Keysar, and Nicholas Epley
University of Chicago
Understanding others' behavior often involves attributing mental states to them by using one's "theory
of mind." We argue that using theory of mind to recognize differences between one's own perspective
and another's perspective is a deliberate process of inference that may be influenced by incidental mood.
Because sadness is associated with more systematic and deliberate processing whereas happiness is
associated with more heuristic processing, we predicted that theory-of-mind use would be facilitated by
sadness compared with happiness. Two experiments supported this prediction, demonstrating that
participants were more likely to utilize knowledge about others to make inferences about their mental
states when they were induced to feel sad than when they were induced to feel happy. These results
provide both theoretical insight into the psychological mechanisms that govern theory of mind as well as
practical insight into a common source of variability in its use.
Keywords: egocentrism, theory of mind, perspective-taking, mood, heuristics
Reasoning about others' mental states is an inescapable feature
of everyday life. An ambiguous joke following a manuscript
rejection can leave one wondering whether a colleague meant to be
light hearted or vindictive. A date's raised eyebrows can leave one
wondering whether a new outfit is shockingly attractive or just
shocking. Such mental state inferences occur across a wide spec-

  

Source: Acton, Scott - Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Virginia

 

Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences