The Relation Between Dyadic Mind-Mindedness and Empathic Accuracy in Close Social and Stranger Dyads
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Successful social interaction requires attending to and accurately processing others’ thoughts and feelings. Two important components of such social-cognitive processes are mind-mindedness (MM), which is the propensity to spontaneously think about others’ mental states, and empathic accuracy (EA), which is the accurate inference of others’ thoughts and feelings. No studies, however, have examined the relations between these social cognitive constructs. This study examined EA and MM in close dyads (e.g., best friends or romantic partners; n=50 pairs) and stranger dyads (n=50 pairs) aged 18 to 32 who engaged in a semi-structured interaction. For both close dyads and stranger dyads, the EA of one partner predicted the EA of the other partner (close dyads: rs = .50, ps<.001 & stranger dyads: r = .72, ps<.001). In contrast, across both pair types, one partner’s level of MM did not predict their partner’s MM. Mind-Mindedness, but not empathic accuracy was related to relationship outcomes. On an individual level, EA and MM were also not related. Overall, these results suggest that different components of social cognition show varied concordance across dyads, with implications for assessing relationships. Future research should include additional outcome measures and assess physiological data during the interaction task to better understand predictors of relationship success.