Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Geoffrey F. Potts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Peter Clayson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chad Dube, Ph.D.


observed error-related negativity, event-related potential, social cognition, perspective taking


To thrive within our social environment, we must understand and learn from those around us. Theory of Mind (ToM) refers to our ability to put ourselves in other’s shoes to comprehend what they are thinking. Observed error monitoring (OEM) refers to detecting others’ mistakes in real time, which is ultimately thought of as a mechanism that supports our learning from those mistakes without personally having committed them. Current findings suggest that both ToM and OEM are dependent on one another when engaging in social learning. We first emulate the mental state of others to understand their goals motivations. We then monitor for errors in their behavior, determining if their actions align with their goals. In this way, we are able to learn vicariously through the mistakes of others. The relationship between ToM and OEM has not yet been directly studied in a healthy sample. The aim of the study was to validate OEM as an index of ToM performance. OEM was measured using two event-related potentials (ERPs), the observed error-related negativity (oERN) and the observed feedback-related negativity (oFRN), with a social go/no-go task. ToM was measured by the hinting task (HT) and the faux pas recognition test (FPRT). A final sample of thirty-six undergraduate participants from the University of South Florida was used for analysis. The HT as a predictor for the oERN trended towards significance and was found to be negatively correlated with the oERN after adding in combined household income as a control variable post-hoc. No other relationships were observed for the main predictions of the study. The results suggest that the oERN may be a viable predictor of ToM performance while the oFRN may not be a sensitive enough to measure to detect this relationship.