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Mentalizing During Social InterAction: A Four Component Model

Wu, Haiyan and Liu, Xun and Hagan, Cindy C. and Mobbs, Dean (2020) Mentalizing During Social InterAction: A Four Component Model. Cortex, 126 . pp. 242-252. ISSN 0010-9452. PMCID PMC7739946. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2019.12.031.

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Mentalizing, conventionally defined as the process in which we infer the inner thoughts and intentions of others, is a fundamental component of human social cognition. Yet its role, and the nuanced layers involved, in real world social interaction are rarely discussed. To account for this lack of theory, we propose the interactive mentalizing theory (IMT) which emphasize the role of the metacognition in different mentalizing components. We discuss the connection between mentalizing, metacognition, and social interaction in the context of four elements of mentalizing: (i) Metacognition - inference of our own thought processes and social cognitions and which is central to all other components of mentalizing including: (ii) first-order mentalizing – inferring the thoughts and intentions of an agent’s mind; (iii) personal second-order mentalizing - inference of other’s mentalizing of one’s own mind; (iv) Collective mentalizing: which takes at least two forms (a) vicarious mentalizing: adopting another’s mentalizing of an agent (i.e. what we think others think of an agent) and (b) co-mentalizing: mentalizing about an agent in conjunction with others’ mentalizing of that agent (i.e. conforming to others beliefs about another agent’s internal states). The weights of these four elements is determined by metacognitive insight and confidence in one’s own or another’s mentalizing ability, yielding a dynamic interaction between these circuits. To advance our knowledge on mentalizing during live social interaction, we identify how these subprocesses can be organized by different target agents and facilitated by combining computational modeling and interactive brain approaches.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Wu, Haiyan0000-0001-8869-6636
Liu, Xun0000-0003-1366-8926
Hagan, Cindy C.0000-0002-4576-7120
Mobbs, Dean0000-0003-1175-3772
Additional Information:© 2020 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Received 2 August 2019, Revised 3 December 2019, Accepted 13 December 2019, Available online 28 January 2020.
Subject Keywords:Metacognition; mentalizing; vicarious mentalizing; co-mentalizing; social inference
PubMed Central ID:PMC7739946
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200128-155728863
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Haiyan Wu, Xun Liu, Cindy C. Hagan, Dean Mobbs, Mentalizing during social InterAction: A four component model, Cortex, Volume 126, 2020, Pages 242-252, ISSN 0010-9452, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:100979
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:29 Jan 2020 00:18
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:58

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