Know yourself and you shall know the other… to a certain extent: Multiple paths of influence of self-reflection on mindreading☆

Consciousness and Cognition 17 (3):778-789 (2008)


Social and neurocognitive research suggests that thinking about one’s own thinking and thinking about the thinking of others—termed ‘mindreading’, ‘metacognition’, ‘social cognition’ or ‘mentalizing’ are not identical activities. The ability though to think about thinking in the first person is nevertheless related to the ability to think about other’s thoughts in the third person. Unclear is how these phenomena influence one another. In this review, we explore how self-reflection and autobiographical memory influence the capacity to think about the thoughts and emotions of others. We review studies suggesting that the more individuals are able to reflect on and retrieve episodes from their life narratives, the more they are likely to grasp others’ thoughts and emotions. We discuss evidence supporting this possibility including studies of the neurocognitive bases of empathy and self-awareness and how different aspects of self-reflection may impact on mindreading. We also draw from clinical reports how improved self-reflection may result in a more nuanced mindreading, namely persons suffering from schizophrenia and narcissistic personality disorder. We finally discuss the implications for research and practice and consider whether there are conditions in which the reverse is true, where self-reflection might impair mindreading or in which mindreading may facilitate self-reflection

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

24 (#478,682)

6 months
1 (#386,989)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Similar books and articles

Action, Mindreading and Embodied Social Cognition.Joshua Shepherd - 2012 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):507-518.
""Banishing" I" and" We" From Accounts of Metacognition.Peter Carruthers - 2009 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (2):148.
Embodied Cognition and Mindreading.Shannon Spaulding - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (1):119-140.
Mindreading in Infancy.Peter Carruthers - 2013 - Mind and Language 28 (2):141-172.
Mindreading and Verbal Communication.Anna Papafragou - 2002 - Mind and Language 17 (1-2):55–67.
Mirroring, Simulating and Mindreading.Alvin I. Goldman - 2009 - Mind and Language 24 (2):235-252.
Interactionism and Mindreading.John Michael - 2011 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (3):559-578.