Goldstein is just starting her research on the psychological development and training of actors. In this paper she describes, for instance, a study in press by her and her PhD supervisor, Ellen Winner, in which they interviewed 11 professional actors who had acted on Broadway and 10 patent lawyers about such matters as their involvement of pretend play in childhood, and their attunement to others' emotions. Actors were distinguished from lawyers in recalling higher involvement in fictional worlds and pretend play in their childhood.
In the same way that fiction writers must create fictional worlds, and have an intense interest in them, so must actors. Therefore, says Goldstein:
Reading, understanding, and then creating a part onstage, in a film, or on a TV show requires a deep analysis of the inner life of that character. To portray a character, actors must first have a genuine understanding of that individual's mental and emotional life. In other words, actors must develop a good "theory of mind" so that they can grasp the inner workings of the characters they must portray. Thus it is likely that training in acting leads to advanced levels of theory of mind (p. 7).This is an exciting and innovative program of research, and we look forward to more results on actors' theory of mind, empathy, and regulation of emotions.
Thalia Goldstein (2009). Psychological perspectives on acting. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3, 6-9.
Thalia Goldstein & Ellen Winner (in press). Living in alternative and inner worlds: Early signs of acting talent. Creativity Research Journal.