The Four Steps of Perspective Taking

The below summarizes one of the critical treatment paradigms we explore when trying to understand the complexities of social participation.

To better understand how we take perspective in a group environment, Winner developed the “The Four Steps of Perspective Taking” to help all of us (adults and students), understand the process through which we share space effectively. Imagine you are in an elevator while you think of each of these four steps:

Step One: When you come into my space, I have a little thought about you and you have a little thought about me.

Step Two: I wonder “why are you near me?,” “what is your purpose for being near me?” “Is it because you are just sharing the space, do you intend to talk to me or do you intend to harm me?” I have to consider all these things in order to keep me safe around people as well as to predict what will happen next.

Step Three: Since we have thoughts about each other, I wonder what you are thinking about me.

Step Four: To keep you thinking about me the way I would like you to think about me, I monitor and possibly modify my behavior to keep you thinking about me the way I want you to think about me.

The “thoughts” we are having about each other are often tiny thoughts that are almost at the unconscious level. However, it is the always-present, very active thought processes of those around us, when we are neurotypical, that allow us to constantly regulate our behavior to make sure that most people have very “normal” thoughts about us most of the time.

These Four Steps of Perspective Taking are what is expected every student does across the school day while sitting in a classroom, on the playground or just hanging out. Social regulation is at the heart of social participation and we each participate socially just when we are in the presence of others, even when we are not talking to them!

Please also read the article by Michelle Garcia Winner, Pamela Crooke and Stephanie Madrigal;

The Social Thinking-Social Communication Profile™*

*Formerly known as the Perspective Taking Spectrum

©2012 Social Thinking Publishing - Michelle Garcia Winner