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Perspective taking is largely described as the ability to adopt the point of view of another individual. In prior research, perspective taking has been divided into two primary components: spatial perspective taking and social perspective taking, each of which play a critical role in our day-to-day lives.

Spatial perspective taking is the ability to mentally manipulate one’s own bodily positioning in space in order to adopt the perspective of another and understand what is seen from their physical perspective (Conson et al., 2015). This form of perspective taking is used in a broad range of our daily interactions with our environment, from judging if a driver sees us before stepping into a crosswalk, to directing a friend to a specific location based on the spatial information available.

Social perspective taking -largely related to Theory of Mind (Premack & Woodruff, 1978)- is considered as the ability to take the viewpoint of another individual within a social context. Within social perspective taking, one identifies and adopts the mental and/or emotional states of another in relation to one’s own mental and emotional states, in order to interpret and understand what the other individual may be feeling or thinking. In order to adopt this perspective, one must take into consideration the beliefs, desires, and intentions of others to interpret their viewpoint.

Our current research focuses on the correlates between spatial perspective taking and social perspective taking, and seeks to explore and identify the specific social cues necessary for spatial perspective taking to occur within a social context by looking at the potential differences between the physical gestures of reaching and grasping.

To learn more about the type of cognitive research we are completing, please view these publications by Dr. Yang:

Li, Yu & Li, Weijia & Yang, Yingying & Wang, Qi. (2019). Feedback and Direction Sources Influence Navigation Decision Making on Experienced Routes. Frontiers in Psychology. 10. 2104. 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02104. 

Yang, Yingying & Merrill, Edward & Wang, Qi. (2019). Children's response, landmark, and metric strategies in spatial navigation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 181. 10.1016/j.jecp.2019.01.005. 

He, Wei & Yang, Yingying & Gao, Dingguo. (2018). Proportional Reasoning in 5- to 6-Year-Olds. Journal of Cognition and Development. 19. 1-24. 10.1080/15248372.2018.1495218. 

Yang, Yingying & Merrill, Edward & Robinson, Trent & Wang, Qi. (2018). The impact of moving entities on wayfinding performance. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 56. 10.1016/j.jenvp.2018.02.003. 

Yang, Y., & Merrill, E. C. (2017). Cognitive and personality characteristics of masculinity and femininity predict wayfinding competence and strategies of men and women. Sex Roles, 76(11-12), 747-758. doi:10.1007/s11199-016-0626-x


Yang, Y. & Merrill, E. C. (2015). Response cost to repeated displays—when previous distracters become the targets. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 68(4), 625-634. doi:10.1080/17470218.2015.1007149


Merrill, E. C., Yang, Y., Roskos, B., & Steele, S. (2016). Sex Differences in using Spatial and Verbal Abilities Influence Route Learning Performance in a Virtual Environment: A Comparison of 6- to 12-Year Old Boys and Girls. Frontiers in Psychology. 7:258. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00258


Yang, Y. & Merrill, E. C. (2015). The impact of signal to noise ratio on contextual cueing in children and adults. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 132, 65-8. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2014.12.005


Yang, Y., & Merrill, E. C (2014). The impact of distracter-target similarity on contextual cueing effects of children and adults. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 121, 42-62.


Merrill, E. C., Conners, F., Yang, Y., & Weathington, D. (2014). The acquisition of contextual cueing effects by persons with and without intellectual disability. Research in Developmental Disabilities. 35(10), 2341-2351.

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