Campus Units


Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Social Decentering: A Theory of Other-Orientation Encompassing Empathy and Perspective-Taking, Redmond, Mark V.




Social decentering was coined as a term to encompass being other-oriented in the broadest sense. Piaget (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969) used the term decentering to describe the ability of children to see the physical world from another person’s perspective. For Higgins (1981), role-taking represents movement from egocentrism to decentration. Higgins describes decentration as “the ability to interrelate two or more mental elements in active memory” (p. 131) with that ability continuing to develop, thus increasing the number of mental elements that can be interrelated. Social decentering shares the same basic cognitive processes that are represented in these initial conceptualizations of decentering. However, rather than being limited to a visually oriented perspective as with Piaget, I’ve added the modifier “social” to emphasize an orientation centered on another person – of seeing and feeling the world as another person does. Social decentering is introduced as a new term to represent this other-oriented process because other terms like empathy, perspective-taking, and role-taking are used in a myriad of inconsistent ways or are restrictive in their treatment of other-orientation. However, much of the foundation for social decentering is by necessity drawn from the theory and research generated under the rubrics of empathy, perspective-taking, and role-taking.


This accepted book chapter is published as Redmond, M., The Relationship of Empathy and Perspective-Taking to Social Decentering in Social Decentering: A Theory of Other-Orientation Encompassing Empathy and Perspective-Taking, Author Redmond, Mark V., Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston (2018). doi:10.1515/9783110515664. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

De Gruyter Oldenbourg



File Format


Published Version