Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Richard H. Gramzow

Second Advisor

Charisse L'Pree


Challenge and Threat, Gender Disparities, Perspective Taking, Political Differences

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


An important skill for interpersonal communication is the ability to take the perspective of another person. Taking the perspective of a target can aid the perceiver in predicting the target’s mental states and subsequent behaviors. This can be especially important in threatening situations. How a member of an advantaged group believes that disadvantaged group members will react to a threatening situation may influence the advantaged member’s actions and beliefs. In the first study, female and male participants read information regarding gender while using three perspectives; their own perspective, predicting the other gender’s responses, or imagining their responses if they were the other gender. They estimated their career expectations while using their assigned perspective and their willingness to help women in the workplace while using their own perspective. The second study examined perspective taking in the political context. Participants were presented with a paragraph indicating that Independent voters were either in favor or against their political party. The participants indicated their future life expectations, willingness to compromise with the opposing party, and willingness to help a member of the opposing party. Both studies reported a similar pattern for expectations. Advantaged groups overestimated the negative effects of threat on the disadvantaged group, while disadvantaged groups overestimated the positive effects on the advantaged groups. Perspective taking increased helping intentions in Study 1 and showed mixed results in Study 2. The studies’ results were inconsistent with prior research and suggest that perspective taking may not produce positive results for groups who are disadvantaged.


Open Access