Gehlbach, H., Marietta, G., King, A., Karutz, C., Bailenson, J.N. & Dede, C. (2015). Many Ways to Walk a Mile in Another’s Moccasins: Type of Social Perspective Taking and its effect on Negotiation Outcomes. Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 523-532.
The process of social perspective taking holds tremendous promise as a means to facilitate conflict resolution. Despite rapidly accumulating knowledge about social perspective taking in general, scholars know little about how the type of social perspective taking affects outcomes of interest. This study tests whether different ways to ‘‘walk a mile in another’s shoes’’ cause different outcomes. By taking advantage of a computer-based simulation (where participants can learn about others by virtually walking around in the shoes of other characters), we assigned participants from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (N= 842) to five different perspective taking treatments or a control condition. Results show that perspective takers who receive information about the other party foster more positive relationships and make greater concessions than participants who did not receive information about the other party. Furthermore, those who experientially learned about the other party’s perspective felt more positive about their relationships and made greater concessions during the negotiation than those who were simply provided information about the other party’s perspective. No differences were found between virtually and imaginatively taking the perspective of others. These findings suggest the importance of accounting for the type of social perspective taking in studying how this social-cognitive process may facilitate conflict resolution.