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The science of 'mind-reading': our new test reveals how well we understand others

By Rachel Clutterbuck, PhD Researcher in Psychology, University of Bath
Lucy Anne Livingston, Lecturer in Psychology, Cardiff University
Mitchell Callan, Professor of Social Psychology, University of Bath
Punit Shah, Associate Professor in Psychology, University of Bath
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Mind-reading sounds like science fiction. But the term, also referred to as “mentalising”, is a psychological concept used to describe the process of understanding what other people are thinking. We may not be aware of it, but we use mind-reading every day when we interact with each other. It helps us to understand another person’s viewpoint or know when someone is saying something that they do not mean, such as being sarcastic or lying.

Mind-reading is different from the psychological process of empathy. It involves understanding other people’s thoughts or knowledge (“Sarah knows where…

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