Perceiving Sophisticated Minds Influences Perceptual Individuation

In six studies, we investigated how ascribing humanlike versus animallike minds to targets influences how easily targets are individuated. Across the studies, participants learned to discriminate among a variety of “aliens” (actually Greebles). Our initial study showed that participants’ ability to learn to individuate targets was related to beliefs that targets had sophisticated minds. Investigating the directionality of this relationship, we found that learning to better recognize the targets did not affect perceptions of mind (Study 2). However, when targets were described as having sophisticated humanlike (relative to simplistic animallike) mental faculties, perceivers indicated more motivation to individuate (Study 3) and were more successful individuating them (Studies 4 and 5). Finally, we showed that increased self-similarity mediated the relationship between targets’ mental sophistication and perceivers’ motivation to individuate (Study 6). These findings indicate ascribing sophisticated mental faculties to others has implications for how we individuate them.


Publication Date:
Nov 02 2017
Date Submitted:
Jul 10 2019
Pagination:
143-157
ISSN:
0146-1672
Citation:
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
44
2




 Record created 2019-07-10, last modified 2019-07-12

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