Avatars and arrows: implicit mentalizing or domain-general processing?
Santiesteban I., Catmur C., Hopkins SC., Bird G., Heyes C.
Previous studies using the dot perspective task have shown that adults are slower to verify the number of dots they can see in a picture when a human figure in the picture, an avatar, can see a different number of dots. This "self-consistency effect," which occurs even when the avatar's perspective is formally task-irrelevant, has been interpreted as evidence of implicit mentalizing; that humans can think about the mental states of others via dedicated, automatic processes. We tested this interpretation by giving participants 2 versions of the dot perspective task. In some trials, the avatar was presented as in previous experiments, and in other trials the avatar was replaced by an arrow with similar low-level features. We found self-consistency effects of comparable size in the avatar and arrow conditions, suggesting that self-consistency effects in the dot perspective task are due to domain-general processes such as those that mediate automatic attentional orienting.