Tag Archives: perspective taking

Self-Distancing Pronouns Use Can Increase Self-Management

Ethan Kross

Ethan Kross

Despite years of popular guidance to use self-statements for difficult conversations with partners, spouses, and bosses, research argues for using self-distancing alternatives to manage stress and increase self-control.

Emma Bruehlman-Senecal

Emma Bruehlman-Senecal

University of Michigan’s Ethan Kross, Jiyoung Park, Aleah Burson, Adrienne Dougherty, Holly Shablack, and Ryan Bremner with Emma Bruehlman-Senecal and Ozlem Ayduk of University of California, Berkeley, plus Michigan State’s Jason Moser studied more than 580 people’s ability to self-regulate reactions to social stress by using different ways of referring to the self during introspection.

LeBron James

LeBron James

One example of variations in self-reference is LeBron James’ statement, One thing I didn’t want to do was make an emotional decision. I wanted to do what’s best for LeBron James and to do what makes LeBron James happy.”

The team demonstrated that using non-first-person pronouns (such as “he” or “she”)  and one’s own name (rather than “I”) during introspection enhanced self-distancing, or focusing on the self from a distant perspective.

Stephen Hayes

Stephen Hayes

Distancing, also called “decentering” or “self as context,” allows people to observe and accept their feelings, according to University of Nevada’s Steven Hayes, Jason Luoma, Akihiko Masuda and Jason Lillis collaborating with Frank Bond of University of London.

Ozlem Ayduk

Ozlem Ayduk

Self-distancing verbalizations were associated with less distress and less maladaptive “post-event processing  (reviewing performance) when delivering a speech without sufficient time to prepare, and when seeking to make a good first impression on others.
Post-event processing can lead to increased social anxiety, noted Temple University’s Faith Brozovich and Richard Heimberg.

Faith Brozovich

Faith Brozovich

They found that participantsexperienced less global negative affect and shame after delivering a speech without sufficient preparation time, and engaged in less post-event processing.

Adrienne Dougherty

People who talked about themselves with non-first person pronouns also performed better in speaking and impression-formation social tasks, according to ratings by observers.

Participants who used self-distancing language appraised future stressors as less threatening, and they more effectively reconstrued experiences for greater coping, insight, and closure, in another study by Kross and Ayduk.

Ryan Bremner

Ryan Bremner

People with elevated scores on measures of depression or bipolar disorder experienced less distress when applying a self-distanced visual perspective as they contemplated emotional experiences, noted Kross and Ayduk, collaborating with San Francisco State University’s David Gard, Patricia Deldin of University of Michigan, and Jessica Clifton of University of Vermont.

David Gard

Using second-person pronouns (“you”) seems to be a self-distancing strategy when people reflect on situations that involve self-control, noted University of North Carolina’s Ethan Zell, Amy Beth Warriner of McMaster University and University of Illinois’s Dolores Albarracín.

Ethan Zell

These findings demonstrate that small changes in self-referencing words during introspection significantly increase self-regulation of thoughts, feelings, and behavior during social stress experiences.

Self-distancing references may help people manage depression and anger about past and anticipated social anxiety.

Dolores Albarracín

-*What impact do you experience when you use “self-distancing language”?

-*How do you react when you hear others using “self-distancing language,” like referring to “you” when speaking about their own experience?

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Reading Changes Brain Connectivity

Reading a novel causes measurable and persistent changes in brain connectivity, building on findings that reading literary fiction can increase empathic awareness.

Gregory Berns

Gregory Berns

Stories shape our lives and in some cases help define a person,” according Emory University’s Gregory S. Berns, who with Kristina Blaine, Michael J. Prietula,and Brandon E. Pye used laboratory imaging to investigate the impact of reading fiction.

The team conducted resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scan (fMRI) of 21 volunteers on 19 consecutive days.

Robert Harris

Robert Harris

The first five daily scans provided a baseline, then participants read 1/9th (about 30 pages) of Robert Harriss Pompeii, a 2003 thriller, during the evening of the next 9 days.
For the next 9 mornings, they completed a quiz on the novel’s content, then resting-state (non-reading) fMRI.

Kristina Blaine

Kristina Blaine

The brain scans showed significant connectivity increases in the left angular/supramarginal gyri in the left temporal cortex and right posterior temporal gyri, areas associated with perspective taking and story comprehension.

Michael Prietula

Michael Prietula

The last 5 daily scans occurred with no reading the previous evening, and showed persistent connectivity changes for up to five days in bilateral somatosensory cortex in the central sulcus, suggesting neural mechanisms for:

Olaf Hauk

Olaf Hauk

-“Embodied semantics,” described by University of Cambridge’s Olaf Hauk and Nadja Tschentscher, as well as University of Southern California’s Lisa Aziz-Zadeh and Antonio Damasio

-“Grounded cognition,” summarized by Emory’s Lawrence Barsalou

Lawrence Barsalou

Lawrence Barsalou

Muscle memory, investigated by Amirkabir University of Technology’s Hossein Hassanpoor and Ali Fallah with Mohsin Raza of Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences.

Brandon Pye

Brandon Pye

This somatosensory activation suggests that reading a novel activates neural changes found with physical sensation and movement systems.
Berns noted that “…good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense …(and)… may also be happening biologically.”

These fMRI findings reinforce findings that reading award-winning fiction can increase empathic awareness of others and related interpersonal insight.

-*What non-fiction reading provided memorable empathic insights about others?

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