On What Ground Do We Mentalize? Characteristics of Current Tasks and Sources of Information That Contribute to Mentalizing Judgments

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Abstract

Mentalizing is an aspect of social cognition that is garnering increased interest. Although a wide variety of experimental tasks are available to measure mentalizing abilities in adults, the most widely used tasks typically focus on specific aspects of mentalizing, and mentalizing judgments are performed based on a limited set of information about the agent and the context. Here, we present the Eight Sources of Information Framework (8-SIF), a model that describes the sources of information that can contribute to mentalizing judgments both in real life and in the context of mentalizing tasks. This model is then used to systematically review and analyze the most classical mentalizing tasks, with a particular focus on the sources of information provided as a basis for mentalizing judgments in these tasks. Next, mentalizing tasks with improved ecological validity are also examined, highlighting the greater richness and diversity of the sources of information provided in such tasks relative to the most classical tasks. We believe that the 8-SIF is an important first step to increase awareness of the sources of information that can contribute to mentalizing judgments and to favor investigations of the potential impact of these sources of information on mentalizing performance in different populations.

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