Mind-reading sounds like science fiction. But the term, also referred to as “mentalising”, is a psychological concept used to describe the process of understanding what other people are thinking. We may not be aware of it, but we use mind-reading every day when we interact with each other. It helps us to understand another person’s viewpoint or know when someone is saying something that they do not mean, such as being sarcastic or lying.
Mind-reading is different from the psychological process of empathy. It involves understanding other people’s thoughts or knowledge (“Sarah knows where the biscuits are kept”), whereas empathy involves understanding other people’s emotions (“Sarah would feel sad if her biscuits were taken”). Traditionally, scientists have not properly distinguished mind-reading from empathy, so most psychological tests mix up the two concepts.
Want to know how good your mind-reading ability is? You can complete the test here.