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Causes and consequences of mind perception



Perceiving others' minds is a crucial component of social life. People do not, however, always ascribe minds to other people, and sometimes ascribe minds to non-people (e.g. God, gadgets). This article reviews when mind perception occurs, when it does not, and why mind perception is important. Causes of mind perception stem both from the perceiver and perceived, and include the need for social connection (perceiver) and a similarity to oneself (perceived). Mind perception also has profound consequences for both the perceiver and perceived. Ascribing mind confers an entity moral rights and also makes its actions meaningful. Understanding the causes and consequences of mind perception can explain when this most social of cognitive skills will be used, and why it matters.
Causes and consequences of mind
Adam Waytz
, Kurt Gray
, Nicholas Epley
and Daniel M. Wegner
Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Northwest Science Building Ste. 290, 52 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Department of Psychology, 1147 Biology/Psychology Building, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 5807 S. Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland St., WJH 1470, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Perceiving others’ minds is a crucial component of social
life. People do not, however, always ascribe minds to
other people, and sometimes ascribe minds to non-
people (e.g. God, gadgets). This article reviews when
mind perception occurs, when it does not, and why mind
perception is important. Causes of mind perception stem
both from the perceiver and perceived, and include the
need for social connection (perceiver) and a similarity to
oneself (perceived). Mind perception also has profound
consequences for both the perceiver and perceived.
Ascribing mind confers an entity moral rights and also
makes its actions meaningful. Understanding the causes
and consequences of mind perception can explain when
this most social of cognitive skills will be used, and why
it matters.
Mind perception in context
Whether or not something has a mind is sometimes settled
by vote. Five US Supreme Court Justices decided that
corporations have minds that can be expressed, and there-
fore deserve the right of free speech. The remaining four
justices disagreed, saying that ‘‘corporations have no con-
sciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires’’ [1].
Considering non-human animals, the majority of the Span-
ish parliament believed that evidence for the presence of
mind in captive chimpanzees was strong enough to grant
them limited human rights [2]. Even the presence of mind
in other people can be contentious, such as in the case of
Standing Bear, a Native American who sued the U.S.
Government to be recognized as a person. In the seminal
1879 court case, Standing Bear had to describe the reality
of his own mind to the court, saying, ‘‘My hand is not the
color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain’’ [3].
Whether people think that a particular entity has a mind
be it a group or a technological gadget, a God or a dead
person, an unborn fetus or one’s next-door neighbor can
be both crucially important and highly controversial [4].In
this article we present an expanding body of research on
‘mind perception’ [5,6] that investigates how people define
minds, when people perceive minds in others, and why
mind perception matters in everyday life.
Understanding how people think about minds has long
been a fundamental interest in the cognitive sciences. The
inferences people make about minds comprise three basic
research questions. First, do people think a particular
entity has a mind? Second, what state is that other mind
in? Third, what are the behavioral consequences of per-
ceiving a mind in another entity? Most research has
focused on the second question the perception of mental
states that has come to be known as ‘theory of mind’ or
‘mentalizing’ [7,8]. Researchers are now expanding their
attention to the first and third questions about the causes
and consequences of mind perception, respectively a shift
that represents an important emerging trend worthy of
Recent research demonstrates that people intuitively
think about other mindsin terms of two distinct dimensions:
experience (the capacity to sense and feel) and agency (the
capacity to plan and act) [9]. A similar two-dimensional
representation has emerged independentlyin several differ-
ent research programs, including intuitive representations
of personhood that distinguish between human nature (the
capacity for emotional responsiveness) and human unique-
ness (the capacity for civility, rationality, and morality)
[10,11], and also the two fundamental dimensions of social
evaluation that distinguish between warmth (correspond-
ing to experience) andcompetence (corresponding to agency)
[12]. When people attribute minds to others, it is in terms of
their capacity to ‘feel’, to ‘do’, or both.
Attributing a mind to another agent is complex because
two different minds are involved, the mind of the person
perceiving and the mind of the entity being perceived. This
creates two distinct sets of causes those that stem from
the mind of the person perceiving, and those that stem
from the behavior of the entity being perceived. This also
creates two different sets of consequences of mind percep-
tion those for the person perceiving and those for the
entity being perceived. This 22 structure serves as the
outline for this article (Figure 1).
Causes of mind perception
The capacity to reason about minds is an impressive tool
that nearly all humans possess. People use tools when they
serve immediate goals, and thinking about another’s mind
is useful for achieving two basic goals in everyday life:
understanding, predicting, or controlling another’s beha-
vior, and developing a social connection with another agent
[13]. Factors that trigger these two should therefore
increase the tendency to perceive minds in others.
Causal uncertainly is one of the basic triggers of the
goal for prediction and control. When a car behaves in a
Corresponding author: Waytz, A. (
1364-6613/$ see front matter ß2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2010.05.006 Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14 (2010) 383388 383
perfectly predictable way in response to your actions, it
seems mindless; but when it starts lurching forward while
breaking, or stalling while starting, then your car might
seem to have a mind of its own. This is because mental
states intentions, desires, and feelings are the very
states that best explain the behavior of independent enti-
ties [14]. People consistently use mental states to explain
both human and non-human actions, particularly when
they are under cognitive load and are therefore unable to
generate more elaborate causal explanations [15]. For
instance, cognitive load causes adults to explain natural
events (e.g. why the sun radiates) in terms of purposeful
design (e.g. to nurture life [16])a teleological bias also
found in young children [17] and Alzheimer’s patients [18],
both of whom lack well-developed causal reasoning abil-
Just as causal uncertainty increases mind perception by
triggering a motivation for understanding, predictability,
and control, so too does lacking personal control. For
example, when people ruminate on experiences in which
they lacked control or are primed with thoughts of random-
ness, they become more likely to believe in an agentic,
controlling God, capable of planning and intention [19,20].
Similarly, when reminded of existential meaninglessness
and powerlessness in the face of death, people become more
likely to believe in agentic Gods and other supernatural
sources of agency [21]. Supernatural agents can provide
power, safety, and the potential for immortality, all of
which increase one’s sense of personal meaning and control
when facing death. In less existentially significant
examples, simply being denied control over a set of animate
marbles increases attributions of intentionality to those
marbles [22], whereas being dispositionally inclined
toward control in daily life increases the attribution of
complex mental capacities to dogs [23].
Other minds not only create a sense of understanding,
they also create a sense of social connection with another
entity. Considering another person’s mental states by
explicitly adopting his or her perspective increases the
perceived similarity between the self and the other person
[24,25]. A motivation to connect with another entity can
likewise trigger thoughts about that entity’s mental states.
Those with a high need to belong identify emotions from
facial and vocal cues more accurately than those with a low
need to belong, suggesting an increased attentiveness to
mental states [26]. Naturally-occurring or situationally-
induced loneliness also causes people to ascribe mental
states to pets and machines, and increases belief in the
presence of invisible minds such as that of God [23,27,28].
Although mind is in the eye of the perceiver, characteristics
of the entity being perceived also influence mind percep-
tion. For example, entities that act unpredictably evoke the
need for control, and therefore seem more mindful than
entities that behave predictably [29]. Likewise, entities
that produce negative outcomes also seem more inten-
tional than entities that produce positive outcomes [30],
such that people attribute more intentionality to others
who commit evil deeds than good deeds [31], and express
greater belief in an agentic God when attempting to under-
stand suffering rather than salvation [32]. This is likely
because negative events elicit an increased search for
causal explanations [33].
Non-human entities that resemble humans the pro-
totypical mind-havers are also attributed more mind,
whether they have a humanlike appearance [34] or simply
move at a humanlike speed [35,36] (Box 1). People who are
similar to the self are seen as more mindful as well. In one
study people judged others with similar political beliefs to
be rational, whereas they judged others who held different
beliefs to be less capable of ‘logical analysis’ and holding an
‘objective perspective’ [37]. Liked others also seem more
mindful than disliked others [38]. Conversely, disliked
Figure 1. The causes and consequences of mind perception for perceiver and perceived.
Review Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol.14 No.8
entities and those different from the self seem more mind-
less. People attribute fewer secondary emotions (e.g. humi-
liation and nostalgia) and mental-state traits (e.g.
imaginative, analytical) to out-group members than in-
group members [10,39,40]. Out-group members evoke less
activation in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), a region
involved in perceiving other minds [41], and are sometimes
likened to animals with diminished mental capacities
[42,43]. People also dehumanize (or dementalize) specific
disliked others, such as another person who rejects them
[44]. Finally, when individuals objectify another person by
focusing solely on the person’s body, attention is diverted
from that person’s mind, making the target appear less
mentally capable [45,46].
Consequences of mind perception
Perceiving mental states in another entity matters to the
perceiver for three main reasons. First, perceiving mental
states in another entity intensifies the perceiver’s psycho-
logical experience of events. A seemingly random event
might have little importance, but the same event intended
by another could seem more significant because it comes
with broader implications intentional events are more
likely to be recurrent, and demand a response. A tree
branch that another person drops on you is more note-
worthy than one that the wind blows down on you [47].
People therefore experience intentional events more inten-
sely than accidental events. An electric shock, for instance,
hurts more when delivered intentionally than accidentally
[48], and an insult intentionally directed at the self triggers
more cognitive processing and rationalization than does
the same insult directed at someone else [49]. Likewise,
people judge intentional harms more harshly than acci-
dental ones [50,51].
Second, other minds can have thoughts, and mindful
others can therefore have thoughts about the perceiver.
Perceivers want to be evaluated positively by others, and
the presence of another surveilling mind can therefore
increase socially desirable behavior. Gods and spirits, for
instance, are presumed by believers to be capable of
monitoring one’s own behavior at all times and in all
places. Priming the presence of a mindful God therefore
prompts less cheating [52], and more generous donations
in an economic exchange [53]. Simply evoking the external
characteristics of a mind (e.g. a pair of eyes) also decreases
cheating [54], and the presence of an audience increases
people’s tendency to uphold a moral code by punishing
wrongdoers. Researchers have suggested that belief in
such surveilling minds is adaptive because it increases
prosocial behaviors that benefit one’s in-group [55,56], and
reduces anti-social behaviors that could lead to punish-
ment or exile [57]. This does not mean that mind percep-
tion is always personally beneficial. Exaggerating the
presence of surveilling minds can have negative implica-
tions for the perceiver, as in the case of paranoid schizo-
phrenics whose overactive mind perception might make
them believe that they are constantly being scrutinized
Finally, perceiving one mind within a moral context can
compel people to see a second mind. This is because
people’s psychological template for moral events involves
(at least) two minds, one mind to perpetrate the moral act
a moral agent and one mind to receive it a moral patient
[59]. For example, a murder requires both a murderer and
victim; a charitable donation requires both a donor and a
recipient. Thus, when people are wronged or victimized,
they might search for a perpetrator to blame, whether it be
another person [60], animal [61], or God [32]. Conversely,
when people see a perpetrator of wrongdoing, they could
infer the presence of such a victim, a mind harmed by the
act [32].
Perceivers also tend to characterize agents and patients
in terms of their most prominent aspect of mind, ignoring
moral agents’ experience (in the case of perceiving villains
to be insensitive to pain and pleasure) and moral patients’
agency (in the case of perceiving victims to be blameless for
their circumstances) a phenomenon called moral type-
casting [59]. Moral typecasting can explain people’s will-
ingness to harm heroes [59], hesitance to blame victims
[62], and how doing moral deeds can increase personal
agency [63]. The link between mind perception and mor-
ality means that attributing less mind to an entity reduces
its moral status as well. People might therefore assuage
their guilt after harming another person by perceiving
Box 1. Mind perception in the uncanny valley
Mind perception is not necessarily a cold perceptual process, as it
sometimes evokes strong emotional reactions (Figure I). One
emotional response to minds under current investigation is the
‘uncanny valley’ the tendency for a robot to elicit negative
emotional reactions when it closely resembles a human [72]. Robots
that are obviously mechanical seldom produce such emotional
reactions, and presumably, a robot that fully passed as human
would also not prompt an exaggerated emotional response. But a
robot with near-human features such as skin, expression, voice, and
movement, rather than prompting reactions that might also be near
human, often instead provokes feelings of revulsion. This might
occur because abnormal features violate evolutionary esthetics [73],
or because humanoid features remind people of death [74]. Or, it
could be that agency without the capacity for experience adds up to
the perception of a mind that is disturbingly incomplete (Gray and
Wegner, unpublished).
Figure I. The model of Repliee Q2, a humanoid robot that is extremely
uncanny. Image courtesy of Brad Beattie.
Review Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol.14 No.8
them to be relatively mindless [64,65]. That mind percep-
tion is tied so tightly to morality is no coincidence because
moral events consisting of punishment, condemnation,
praise, and reward are fundamentally social events [66].
The perception of mind in an entity could alter how people
interact with it because mind perception implies moral
status. Entities capable of experience (moral patients) are
afforded moral rights, whereas entities capable of agency
(moral agents) are afforded moral responsibility [9,67].
Given how readily people anthropomorphize, it is no sur-
prise that people also ascribe moral responsibilities to non-
human entities, such as animals [61] and computers [68].
In some cases, the over-attribution of moral responsibility
can have harmful consequences, such as when parents
ascribe intention to their infants for wrongdoing and abuse
them in retribution [69].
The more serious ethical problem in everyday life,
however, is likely to come from seeing too little mind in
others [4]. If another person is seen as relatively mindless,
then he or she receives diminished moral standing, and
might be treated like an animal or an object. People can
deny mental capacities in two ways that map on to the
dimensions of agency and experience either people are
stripped of uniquely human aspects such as competence
and civility, or human nature aspects such as warmth and
vitality [10,70]. Each of these methods of dehumanization
or dementalization has a consequence for its targets.
Those denied warmth and experience come to seem be
robotic, cold, and cruel [11,12], encouraging active harm
toward them when opportunities arise [71].Thosedenied
competence, civility and agency come to be seen as sub-
servient [71], or animalistic [10,11], licensing people to
contain them against their will and to rob them of human
Mind matters
The greatest divide in social life is between the direct
experience of one’s own mind and the apparent experiences
of others’ minds (Box 2). Nearly all adults have the capacity
to bridge this divide and reason about the minds of others,
but having the capacity and using it are two different
things. The recent advances highlighted here focus on
the triggers of mind perception and why mind perception
matters, generating a broad array of topics for future
research (Box 3). Understanding mind perception can help
explain the belief in God and intelligent design, the
tendency for people to seek purpose in unexplained events,
and how people can simultaneously see non-human
animals as mindful and other people as mindless. Mind
perception also explains how the perception of intention-
ality creates meaning, how the presence of a surveilling
mind increases cooperation, and how perceiving emotion
and intention can lead people to help and harm or to praise
and punish others. The capacity to get beyond one’s ego-
centric perspective and into the minds of others is surely
one of the human mind’s most impressive abilities. Un-
derstanding mind perception allows us to know when
people will use it.
1 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, U.S. (2010),
p. 76
2 Abend, L. (2008) In Spain, human rights for apes. Time 18 July
3 Dando-Collins, S. (2004) Standing Bear is a Person: the True Story of a
Native American’s Quest for Justice, Da Capo Press
Box 2. Transcendence
The process of perceiving other minds could be one component of a
broader capacity for transcendence the ability to get beyond one’s
experience of the here and now [75]. Perceiving other minds
involves ‘stepping outside’ of immediate experience and is con-
ceptually similar to perceiving one’s own mind in the future or past,
perceiving one’s own mind in an alternate physical setting, or
perceiving one’s own mind in a hypothetical or fictional experience.
The same process might also guide religious or spiritual experi-
ences of perceiving larger meaning in natural events [14].
Recent research demonstrates a link between considering the
mind of another person and considering one’s own mind in the
future. For example, emotional intelligence, a construct linked to
understanding others’ emotions, is correlated with accuracy in
forecasting one’s own emotional reactions to future events [76].
Other studies demonstrate that people judge their own future
preferences similarly to judging others’ preferences in the present.
In one, participants chose how much of a disgusting liquid they
would drink in the present, how much they would choose to drink in
the future, or how much another person would consume. Partici-
pants’ decisions were strikingly similar for their future selves and for
others, but differed significantly for their present selves [77].
Another study demonstrated that the amount of money people
were willing to forego to give another person $75 decreased as a
hyperbolic function of perceived interpersonal closeness with the
other person. This function is virtually identical to the function
describing people’s willingness to forego an immediate reward to
receive a greater reward at varying levels of temporal closeness in
the future [78]. A recent neuroimaging study also demonstrated that
the ventral MPFC was preferentially active when people reasoned
about their present preferences compared with their future prefer-
ences and that the magnitude of this region’s activity when
considering the future predicted greater patience in economic
decision-making [79]. Moreover, this same region distinguished
between considering one’s own preferences versus considering
another person’s preferences, suggesting a similar mechanism for
considering others and considering the future self.
The convergence between intrapersonal prospection and inter-
personal perspective-taking suggests that the same causes of mind
perception toward others might drive mind perception toward one’s
future self. It also suggests that capacities for various types of
transcendence should be correlated, and possibly that improving
performance in one domain (e.g. perspective taking) might also
improve performance in another (e.g. intertemporal choice).
Box 3. Outstanding questions
What policy implications does mind perception have for eutha-
nasia, abortion, animal rights and other debates stemming from
the ambiguity of mind?
How effective is mind perception for satisfying the motivation for
understanding, predictability, and control? Does perceiving
another mind satisfy the need for social connection?
Is the process of mind perception the same across all perceived
targets (e.g. groups versus individuals)?
In which direction is the link between morality and mind
perception stronger? Do we eat cows because we fail to perceive
mind, or do we fail to perceive the minds of cows because we eat
Can mind perception both the tendency to consider the minds of
others and the accuracy of doing so be systematically increased
or trained? If so, does it generalize to other tasks that require
transcending one’s current experience of the here and now?
Review Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol.14 No.8
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... These findings are relevant because impaired outgroup perspective taking has far-reaching consequences in contexts that require recognition of intergroup inequalities (Todd et al., 2012;Todd and Galinsky, 2014). Appreciating another's inner state endows them with moral rights and gives meaning to their actions (Waytz et al., 2010;Gray et al., 2012). Without perspective taking, it is a small leap toward perceiving outgroup members who advocate for structural change as a backward, monolithic mass (Kelman, 1973). ...
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Recent research suggests holding a structural, rather than interpersonal, understanding of racism is associated with greater impetus to address racial disparities. We believe greater acknowledgment of structural racism also functions to mitigate against empathic failures in response to structural injustices. Given South Africa’s situatedness as a country characterized by historical racialized oppression and continuing unjust legacies, it is appropriate to examine these ideas there. Across three studies, we tested the hypotheses that members of advantaged groups’ perspective taking and empathic concern may be compromised in response to people challenging the unequal status quo, and that a priori perceptions about the impact of structural (vs interpersonal) racism may mitigate or exacerbate such empathic failures. In Study 1, a national sample of White South Africans (n = 195) endorsed perceptions of interpersonal racism more readily than perceptions of structural racism, and expressed high levels of competitive victimhood for perceived anti-White structural racism. Studies 2 (n = 138) and 3 (n = 85) showed that White participants at a historically White university responded with impaired perspective taking and intergroup empathy bias in response to people challenging structural disparities. Finally, reduced recognition of continuing structural racism predicted greater intergroup empathy bias, which, in turn, was associated with reduced willingness to engage in intergroup discussions about past harm (Study 3). We propose that greater acknowledgment of structural racism is necessary not only to surmount intergroup empathic failures, but also to transcend the socioeconomically unequal legacies of apartheid and beyond.
... Humanness is therefore unintentionally neglected through dehumanization by omission, the main reasons for which are a lack of interdependence and social distance between people (Waytz & Schroeder, 2014). If we do not collaborate with, depend on, or interact directly with others, we tend to tacitly perceive them to be less experiencing and agentic and therefore less human (Waytz, Gray, Epley, & Wegner, 2010). In addition, considering ourselves to be self-sufficient and others less important might lead to negative behavioural consequences, such as disregarding others' wellbeing, reducing prosocial behaviours, withdrawing from social interactions, objectifying others, and engaging in moral distancing (Waytz & Schroeder, 2014). ...
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In this study, we theorize humanness in organizations as a property of practice. We apply practice theory to examine how humanness becomes enacted in a business organization as people prioritize organizational and individual ends in their work activities. Our empirical case study examines the everyday interactions of development team members in an R&D organization of a large Nordic cooperative. Challenging the dominant individualist and structuralist approaches in humanness and human dignity studies, we identify and locate four different aspects of humanness in organizational practices. As a result, we show how the emergence of humanness is an ongoing process that transpires through two mechanisms: site shifting and reconciliation; that is, people shift between different sites of the social, consisting of different sets of practices with underlying disparate assumptions of humanness, which requires reconciliation. These findings provide a basis for an alternative theorizing of humanness in organizations.
The dehumanization of others is a major scourge of mankind; however, despite its significance, physicians have little understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms for this behavior. We can learn much about dehumanization from its brain-behavior localization and its manifestations in people with brain disorders. Dehumanization as an act of denying to others human qualities includes two major forms. Animalistic dehumanization (also called infrahumanization) results from increased inhibition of prepotent tendencies for emotional feelings and empathy for others. The mechanism may be increased activity in the inferior frontal gyrus. In contrast, mechanistic dehumanization results from a loss of perception of basic human nature and decreased mind-attribution. The mechanism may be hypofunction of a mentalization network centered in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and adjacent subgenual anterior cingulate cortex. Whereas developmental factors may promote animalistic dehumanization, brain disorders, such as frontotemporal dementia, primarily promote mechanistic dehumanization. The consideration of these two processes as distinct, with different neurobiological origins, could help guide efforts to mitigate expression of this behavior.
As journalists are expected to report on events where expectations and rules are transgressed, they often report on moral violations (such as murder, tax evasion, or unjust political decisions). Exposed to journalistic reports on violations of their moral principles, individuals instantly feel that these actions are wrong. According to theories of morality, immorality perceptions are associated with specific cognitive and affective reactions. In two studies, we used the concept of a moral dyad to (a) define moral news content and (b) analyze emotional reactions and memory effects of intuitive perceptions of immorality. In both studies, immorality led to higher levels of anger and compassion, but impaired memory with effects hinging on perception of immorality. These perceptions further did not differ across different presentations of dyads. Our findings show the usefulness to employ a lens of morality to look at the entire news production and reception process.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming advertising theory and practice. However, while applications of AI abound, it appears that not enough questions are being asked about the ontological, technical, and ethical consequences of artificially intelligent advertising ecosystems. Given the pace and unpredictability of technological change, this article adopts a question-driven approach, emphasizing the importance of adopting a maieutic attitude for academics, practitioners, and other advertising stakeholders, including the AI-ad-consuming public.
With three experimental studies using data from young adults living in a highly religious context, namely Turkey (N = 483), the current research examines how being watched by a third person versus God affects the perceived likelihood ratings of harmful versus impure immoral behaviors. We hypothesized that respondents would expect others to more strongly refrain from acting immorally when they believed they were being watched by God compared to a third person, and that this effect would be more pronounced for impure compared to harmful moral transgressions. The God condition was perceived as more effective than the third-person surveillance condition when immoral behaviors were harmful. However, for severe impure transgressions, neither surveillance condition was perceived as effective. We discuss our findings in light of contemporary morality research, outline the role of possible cultural and individual-level boundary conditions, and highlight the scientific and practical contributions of our research to the field.
Variability is a property of biological systems, and in animals (including humans), behavioral variability is characterized by certain features, such as the range of variability and the shape of its distribution. Nevertheless, only a few studies have investigated whether and how variability features contribute to the ascription of humanness to robots in a human-robot interaction setting. Here, we tested whether two aspects of behavioral variability, namely, the standard deviation and the shape of distribution of reaction times, affect the ascription of humanness to robots during a joint action scenario. We designed an interactive task in which pairs of participants performed a joint Simon task with an iCub robot placed by their side. Either iCub could perform the task in a preprogrammed manner, or its button presses could be teleoperated by the other member of the pair, seated in the other room. Under the preprogrammed condition, the iCub pressed buttons with reaction times falling within the range of human variability. However, the distribution of the reaction times did not resemble a human-like shape. Participants were sensitive to humanness, because they correctly detected the human agent above chance level. When the iCub was controlled by the computer program, it passed our variation of a nonverbal Turing test. Together, our results suggest that hints of humanness, such as the range of behavioral variability, might be used by observers to ascribe humanness to a humanoid robot.
Attribution of mental states to self and others, i.e., mentalizing, is central to human life. Current measures are lacking in the ability to directly gauge the extent to which individuals engage in spontaneous mentalizing. Focusing on natural language use as an expression of inner psychological processes, we developed the Mental-Physical Verb Norms (MPVN). These norms are participant-derived ratings of the extent to which common verbs reflect mental (vs physical) activities and occurrences, covering a majority of verbs appearing in a given English text. Content validity was assessed against existing expert-compiled dictionaries of mental states and cognitive processes, as well as against normative ratings of verb concreteness. Criterion Validity was assessed through natural text analysis of both experimental data, and natural language use in a real-world online setting. Finally, incremental validity was assessed through a classification analysis. Results indicate the unique contribution of the MPVN ratings as a measure of the degree to which individuals adopt the intentional stance in describing targets, by describing both self and others in mental, opposite physical, terms. We discuss potential uses for future research across various psychological and neurocognitive disciplines, as well as theoretical implications regarding the use of mentalizing language within spontaneous contexts.
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Human dimensions research has proposed a multitude of variables impacting the viability of wildlife populations. Extant approaches to systematizing these variables have mostly focused on human relations to only one animal species or taxon and are largely descriptive, rather than explanatory. In this study, we provide a three-layer framework for understanding people’s responses to a variety of human–wildlife encounters. We conducted a comparative qualitative study, interviewing 20 stakeholders on one of three ecologically disparate model animals. Through thematic analysis, we identified person-specific, species-specific, and overarching factors whose interplay shapes people’s reactions to encounters with wildlife. The person-specific factors, individual people’s biographic backgrounds and life themes, fuel the polarization of stances towards wildlife. The species-specific factors, people’s mental images of wild animals, explain the particular character of different human–wildlife relations. The overarching factors, fundamental questions regarding the place of humans in nature or motivations of control over animal agents, stir the intensity inherent in human encounters with wildlife. This three-layer framework amends existing proposals by providing a cohesive system and an in-depth portrayal of shared and specific factors and processes in various human–wildlife relations and by elucidating their interaction in influencing people’s responses to encounters with wild animals.
DEHUMANIZATION AND DEPOLITICIZATION The paper takes up the issue of “depoliticization” through dehumanization. The starting point is the belief that phenomena of “politicization” and “political” are relatively well recognized in scientific literature, however the problem of depoliticization have not yet been adequately explored. The concept of depoliticization refers to the conditions, criteria, and mechanisms that are key to reducing or depriving a given phenomenon of its political status. Depoliticization does not mean (or at least does not have to mean) an effective removal of the phenomenon from the political sphere, but rather circumstances or actions whose political impact is not obvious. The article focuses on the issue of depoliticization through dehumanization, and more specifically, on how denial of full humanness of groups allows to reduce their status as a political subject, and thus to recognize their claims or interests as not proper or not adequate to political debate. The issues of relations between the processes of humanization and political subjectification as well as dehumanization and political objectification are also discussed.
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Models indicate that opportunities for reputation formation can play an important role in sustaining cooperation and prosocial behavior. Results from experimental economic games support this conclusion, as manipulating reputational opportunities affects prosocial behavior. Noting that some prosocial behavior remains even in anonymous noniterated games, some investigators argue that humans possess a propensity for prosociality independent of reputation management. However, decision-making processes often employ both explicit propositional knowledge and intuitive or affective judgments elicited by tacit cues. Manipulating game parameters alters explicit information employed in overt strategizing but leaves intact cues that may affect intuitive judgments relevant to reputation formation. To explore how subtle cues of observability impact prosocial behavior, we conducted five dictator games, manipulating both auditory cues of the presence of others (via the use of sound-deadening earmuffs) and visual cues (via the presentation of stylized eyespots). Although earmuffs appeared to reduce generosity, this effect was not significant. However, as predicted, eyespots substantially increased generosity, despite no differences in actual anonymity; when using a computer displaying eyespots, almost twice as many participants gave money to their partners compared with the controls. Investigations of prosocial behavior must consider both overt information about game parameters and subtle cues influencing intuitive judgments.
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People's physical embodiment and presence increase their salience and importance. We predicted people would anthropomorphize an embodied humanoid robot more than a robot-like agent, and a collocated more than a remote robot. A robot or robot-like agent interviewed participants about their health. Participants were either present with the robot/agent, or interacted remotely with the robot/agent projected life-size on a screen. Participants were more engaged, disclosed less undesirable behavior, and forgot more with the robot versus the agent. They ate less and anthropomorphized most with the collocated robot. Participants interacted socially and attempted conversational grounding with the robot/agent though aware it was a machine. Basic questions remain about how people resolve the ambiguity of interacting with a humanlike nonhuman.
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This research examined the effects of reminders of ingroup responsibility for past wrongdoings on perception of ingroup responsibility and victim dehumanization as predictors of empathy. Two experiments set in different intergroup contexts found that reminders of ingroup responsibility generated empathy through perception of ingroup responsibility and deflected empathy through subtle victim dehumanization. In Experiment 1, set in the context of indigenous—non-indigenous relations in Chile (N = 124), it was found that reminders of ingroup (vs. individual) responsibility generated empathy by increasing a perception of ingroup responsibility and deflected it through decreased attribution of secondary emotions to the victim group. Experiment 2 replicated the effects in a different context, the recent 1992—1995 war in Bosnia (N = 158). Reminders of ingroup responsibility (vs. no reminders) generated empathy by increasing a perception of ingroup responsibility and deflected it through decreased attribution of secondary emotions to the victim group. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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This paper reports four series of studies that examined the infrahumanization effect using a different measure. Across the four studies, we examined whether people would associate their ingroup more with human- (vs. animal-) related words in comparison to outgroups. In Study 1, we used the Implicit Association Test (Greenwald et al., 1998) and found that participants were quicker during the compatible task (when ingroup names and human-related words shared the same response key and outgroup names and animal-related words shared the same response key) in comparison to the incompatible task. Studies 2a and 2b utilized a paper and pencil design and found that participants were more likely to link ingroup names with human-related words in comparison to the outgroup. In Studies 3a and 3b, we found that participants selected human-related words as being more characteristic of the ingroup in general than the outgroup. In Study 4, we used positive and negative words and found that participants were more likely to link human-related words with ingroup (vs. outgroup) names regardless of valence. Results are discussed in relation to their implications for infrahumanization theory.
Stereotype research emphasizes systematic processes over seemingly arbitrary contents, but content also may prove systematic. On the basis of stereotypes' intergroup functions, the stereotype content model hypothesizes that (a) 2 primary dimensions are competence and warmth, (b) frequent mixed clusters combine high warmth with low competence (paternalistic) or high competence with low warmth (envious), and (c) distinct emotions (pity, envy, admiration, contempt) differentiate the 4 competence-warmth combinations. Stereotypically, (d) status predicts high competence, and competition predicts low warmth. Nine varied samples rated gender, ethnicity, race, class, age, and disability out-groups. Contrary to antipathy models, 2 dimensions mattered, and many stereotypes were mixed, either pitying (low competence, high warmth subordinates) or envying (high competence, low warmth competitors). Stereotypically, status predicted competence, and competition predicted low warmth.
The primary causal explanatory model for interpreting behavior, theory of mind, may have expanded into corridors of human cognition that have little to do with the context in which it evolved, questioning the suitability of domain-specific accounts of mind reading. Namely, philosophical-religious reasoning is a uniquely derived explanatory system anchored in intentionality that does not clearly involve behavior. The presence of an existential theory of mind (EToM) suggests that individuals perceive some nondescript or culturally elaborated (e.g., God) psychological agency as having encoded communicative intentions in the form of life events, similar to a person encoding communicative intentions in deictic gestures. The emergence of EToM is discussed from ontogenetic and phylogenetic perspectives; autism is examined to determine whether alternate core explanatory models (e.g., folk physics) are used by those with deficits in theory of mind to derive existential meaning.