Self-other overlap and its relationship to perspective taking: Underlying mechanisms and implications

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Title: Self-other overlap and its relationship to perspective taking: Underlying mechanisms and implications
Author: Myers, Michael William, 1979-
Abstract: While research has extensively documented the inter- and intra-personal consequences of perspective taking, less is known about the mechanisms that underlie this process. Recent research has explored self-other overlap as a mediator of perspective taking on various pro-social outcomes, such as helping and decreased stereotyping. Results have been mixed, perhaps due to the use of different methodologies and scales that actually measure different facets of self-other overlap. This dissertation investigates the structure of self-other overlap and examines how perspective taking may affect only certain facets of self-other overlap, as well as the direction in which this overlap occurs. To test the conceptual equivalence of different overlap measures, in Study 1, participants completed several previously used measures of overlap for two targets: their best friend and an acquaintance. Factor analyses revealed two distinct factors of self-other overlap-- perceived closeness and attribute overlap --although small variations emerged depending on target. These two factors had unique associations with several relationship quality and individual difference measures. Study 2 extended these results by manipulating perspective taking with a stranger. Results replicated the same factor structure from Study 1, and found that perspective taking had different effects on the two factors. Study 3 examined whether or not perspective taking affected the direction of self-other overlap by changing one's attitudes and beliefs to become more like the other person. Results supported a model in which perceived closeness predicted belief change toward the target person, even after accounting for other related consequences of perspective taking such as empathy and positive attitudes. Together, these results suggest that self-other overlap is a multi-dimensional construct associated with different psychological responses. These results are discussed in connection with the relationship between self-other overlap and perspective taking and how this may lead to "self-expansion."
Description: xv, 103 p. : ill. A print copy of this thesis is available through the UO Libraries. Search the library catalog for the location and call number.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/10324
Date: 2009-09


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