Perspective taking at Every Age
In 2011, New York City officials defended their decision to have 300,000 people leave the city in anticipation of a hurricane, which weakened to a tropical storm by the time it arrived. People questioned whether New Orleans officials should have foreseen and prevented the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2006.
Without knowledge of outcomes, people often make educated guesses about future events. However, with the benefit of outcome knowledge, people frequently make over-educated guesses about past events, claiming that they knew it all along, argues Dr. Daniel Bernstein, Canada Research Chair in Lifespan Cognition. This process, known as biased perspective taking, occurs in all age groups.
Bernstein is combining cognitive and developmental psychology to study perspective taking in everyone from preschoolers to senior citizens. He is also testing theories of perspective taking in preschoolers, school-age children, and younger and older adults.
His research will help dispel students’ and teachers’ frequent beliefs that students already know the instructional material they are being taught. These beliefs lead to poor teaching and poor learning. Bernstein’s research on perspective taking will help lead to improved educational practices.