Mentalizing: Seeking the Underlying Dimensions

  •  Marjaana Lindeman    
  •  Jari Lipsanen    


Mentalizing (i.e., theory of mind) is a much studied construct, but the way different forms of mentalizing are related to each other is poorly understood. In this study (N = 369), we examined the dimensionality of mentalizing by addressing several forms of cognitive and affective empathy, practical mentalizing skills (i.e., understanding figurative language and social etiquette), and metacognition. The results of principal component analysis showed that sixteen mentalizing variables could be reduced to four principal components, namely affective empathy, social skills, self-insight, and views about the nature of beliefs. The components were unrelated, suggesting that they are independent aspects of mentalizing. No general mentalizing factor or overall empathy was found indicating that mentalizing is a non-hierarchical profile construct.

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