Does taking someone else’s perspective lead to deep insight about them?

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Actually, it leads you to behave stereotypically:

Nine studies demonstrated that perspective-takers are particularly likely to adopt a target’s positive and negative stereotypical traits and behaviors. Perspective-takers rated both positive and negative stereotypic traits of targets as more self-descriptive. As a result, taking the perspective of a professor led to improved performance on an analytic task, whereas taking the perspective of a cheerleader led to decreased performance, in line with the respective stereotypes of professors and cheerleaders. Similarly, perspective-takers of an elderly target competed less compared to perspective-takers of an African American target. Including the stereotype in the self (but not liking of the target) mediated the effects of perspective-taking on behavior, suggesting that cognitive and not affective processes drove the behavioral effects. These effects occurred using a measure and multiple manipulations of perspective-taking, as well as a panoply of stereotypes, establishing the robustness of the link between perspective-taking and stereotypical behavior. The findings support theorizing (A. D. Galinsky, G. Ku, & C. S. Wang, 2005) that perspective-takers utilize information, including stereotypes, to coordinate their behavior with others and provide key theoretical insights into the processes of both perspective-taking and behavioral priming. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)

Source: “Perspective-takers behave more stereotypically.” from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

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