This article offers a theoretical exploration of the psychological and social processes involved in perspective taking. Constructing the perspective of other people-that is, how they view themselves, others, and the world-requires perspective takers to mobilize both personal experiences and cultural resources. While these processes are rarely reflected upon in daily interactions with familiar others, they adopt a particular dynamic in the case of less familiar or stigmatized groups such as refugees. To unpack this dynamic, we propose the commitment model, which differentiates among essentialism, situationalism, identification, and repositioning in perspective taking. These categories are defined and exemplified with social media comments regarding refugees, their worldview, and imagined impact on host communities. By examining the different movements involved in perspective taking, we conclude that it is a multifaceted phenomenon that has different pragmatic consequences. It contributes to building more open societies but it can also lead to separating self and others, closing down dialogue and mutual understanding.
- Perspective taking
- Position exchange