Development of Children’s Understanding of Others, Including Perspective Taking, for Example, Selman

  • Level 0- Egocentric- Incapable of seeing things from someone else’s perspective. Believe that everyone has the same opinion as them.
  • Level 1- Subjective- Realise that other people may have a different opinion but not understood.
  • Level 2- Reciprocal- Understand that people may act in a contradictory fashion to their beliefs and that their opinions may oppose their own.
  • Level 3- Mutual- Compromise and communication is understood. They realise that a third person may look upon their discussion and formulate an opinion from the two.
  • Level 4- Societal- Understand that experiences shape beliefs and that acts may be committed unconsciously and without thought.


  • Assumption– Children progress through a set of stages whereby they begin to adopt the perspective of other people.
  • Supported by Eisenberg’s Theory of Pro-social Reasoning.
  • Useful in education to know what level the children are at according to their age range.
  • Less effective when explaining distance of communication i.e. the difference between communications when there is a greater distance (i.e. telephone) than when face to face.
  • May not be to do with the level of perspective taking but instead that they are trying to cope with a difficult situatione. can’t interact with others is actually that they are choosing not to.
  • Does not take into account the “Imaginary Audience” where adolescents feel that they are being watched and judged.
  • Cultural norm may be that they choose to ignore the opinions of others or appear to but doesn’t mean that they can’t take on that view.