The finding that a cognitive exercise in perspective taking can improve one's "theory of mind", or the ability to attribute mental states to self and others, is not surprising. It is the very same concept behind group therapy, in which the individual who may be somewhat deficient in this important ability, is exposed to, and asked to relate to many different points of view. While the ability to infer the thoughts, emotions and motivations of others is particularly problematic for those individuals with autism, psychosis, and some personality disorders, even folks with social anxiety and depression might have a difficult time accurately deciphering the perspectives of those around them, given that their judgment may be clouded by their own cognitive distortions and skewed sense of self.
No matter what the presenting issues, having the ability to step outside of the self and figuratively stand in the other's shoes is a valuable skill that can benefit anyone in a number of valuable ways. For example, being able to take the perspective of others can engender empathy, delay impulsive reactions, diffuse anger and potentially prevent hurt feelings. Finally, having the ability to step outside of the self and see the world through many different lenses can contribute to a fuller, more tolerant understanding of oneself and the world at large.