Perspective Taking

Joni noticed how upset her friend Maria was. Maria seemed to be in tears about her grade on the math test. Of course, Joni had received her usual high grade. She didn't know what to say. Maria was her best friend. The two had studied long and hard together for the test.

Joni tried to put herself in Maria's place. When she did, she was able to imagine how Maria might feel after receiving a low grade on the test, especially knowing that Maria had studied hard. "Maybe she feels like she'll never get a good grade in math," thought Joni.

Joni thought carefully about how she would act when she saw Maria. She decided that she wouldn't gloat about her high grade, and instead would greet Maria by putting her arm around her friend. Equally important, Joni decided to help Maria brainstorm potential strategies to use before the next test. By taking Maria's perspective, Joni could understand Maria's feelings, and behave in a way that might raise her spirits.

Here are some strategies to help students develop their skills in perspective taking.

Helpful Hints

  • Help students be aware of others' feelings and interests by viewing films, and sharing pictures, books, music, poems, and other expressive forms.  
  • Introduce role-play activities in which students act out a scene from different perspectives.  
  • Facilitate the development of perspective taking by engaging in open and active dialogue in your classroom. Encourage students to look at the world from the vantage points of others. Bring in real life examples, such as current events, school issues, etc.  
  • Make perspective taking a problem solving activity in which students must solve a problem by taking the view of another individual, e.g., How would this person see the situation? How would he/she try to solve the problem?