Psychology

Need we think about what others think?

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Science  04 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6252, pp. 1067-1068
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6252.1067-b

Imagine how everyday life would be if we were unable to represent in our own minds what others believed or intended or desired. Such a scenario would likely demand a whole new level of mental focus. Yet we enjoy rich social lives without seeming to spend much effort figuring out what others are thinking—it merely happens—in a process psychologists call automaticity. Phillips et al., however, cast doubt on this hypothesis by conducting a thorough analysis of a complex experimental design used to obtain evidence in favor of automaticity; they find that a subtle error in experimental design undermines the earlier conclusions. These errors do not rule out automaticity, but highlight the need for more carefully designed research.

Psych. Sci. 26, 10.1177/0956797614558717 (2015).

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