Perspective-Taking in communication

Krauss, R. M. and Fussell, S. R. (1991). Perspective-taking in communication: Representations of others’ knowledge in reference. Social Cognition, (9):2–24. Available from:


To communicate people need extensive assumptions about what others know, want and believe. This is the core assumption of this paper, in which the authors want to spot some light on how people take the role of the other while communicating. These assumption are necessarily tentative and probabilistic and therefore, agents may come to different conclusions about what is “mutually known”.

The authors report the fact that little research has involved the mechanisms that allow shared knowledge, beliefs, or perspectives to be inferred. Also, they stress out the fact that as with other forms of social reasoning, people may utilise a variety of knowledge structures (e.g., schemata, stereotypes, inference heuristics) to estimate what others know. These structures may facilitate the inference process but, in the same way, they can introduce sistematic errors or biases.

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