Presenter Information

Kali B. TaylorFollow

Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Rachel Severson

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Psychology

Abstract

Humans’ tendency to infer others’ mental states is thought to be vital to social cognition. Yet people mentalize broadly, attributing mental states to humans, as well as animals, nature, and technology. There appears to be a relation between imagining others’ minds and internal states, whether the target is another person (social cognition), a non-human entity (anthropomorphism) and motivation to read others’ minds (motivation to infer others’ perspectives) (Tahiroglu & Taylor, 2018). This study examined the relationship between anthropomorphism and mind reading motivation, since studies indirectly suggest that there is a relationship between these variables in children, this study examined it in adults first. Participants (N=137; Median age=22.01, SD=6.56, range 18 to 54; 73.5% identified as female, 26.5% identified as male). Eighteen additional participants were excluded for failure to correctly answer the attention check question, eligible participants completed Individual Differences in Anthropomorphism Questionnaire (measuring anthropomorphism), the Mind-Reading Motivation Scale (measuring motivation to infer others’ thoughts), Empathy Quotient (measures ability to take others’ perspectives), and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task (accuracy of inferring others’ emotions) online. While this study primarily examined the relationship between anthropomorphism and mind reading motivation, the Empathy Quotient and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task were also included to explore a relationship between mind reading motivation and mind reading accuracy or mind reading accuracy and anthropomorphism. The distinction between accuracy and motivation may be critical for understanding the relation between mental state attribution across humans, non-humans, and imaginary companions.

The results from this study are important as they could be applied to children. If relationships between any of these variables are found in adults the age that these relationships may develop can be explored in children.

Category

Social Sciences

Share

COinS
 

Inaccuracy mentalizing humans predicts greater mentalizing of nature and technology

Humans’ tendency to infer others’ mental states is thought to be vital to social cognition. Yet people mentalize broadly, attributing mental states to humans, as well as animals, nature, and technology. There appears to be a relation between imagining others’ minds and internal states, whether the target is another person (social cognition), a non-human entity (anthropomorphism) and motivation to read others’ minds (motivation to infer others’ perspectives) (Tahiroglu & Taylor, 2018). This study examined the relationship between anthropomorphism and mind reading motivation, since studies indirectly suggest that there is a relationship between these variables in children, this study examined it in adults first. Participants (N=137; Median age=22.01, SD=6.56, range 18 to 54; 73.5% identified as female, 26.5% identified as male). Eighteen additional participants were excluded for failure to correctly answer the attention check question, eligible participants completed Individual Differences in Anthropomorphism Questionnaire (measuring anthropomorphism), the Mind-Reading Motivation Scale (measuring motivation to infer others’ thoughts), Empathy Quotient (measures ability to take others’ perspectives), and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task (accuracy of inferring others’ emotions) online. While this study primarily examined the relationship between anthropomorphism and mind reading motivation, the Empathy Quotient and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task were also included to explore a relationship between mind reading motivation and mind reading accuracy or mind reading accuracy and anthropomorphism. The distinction between accuracy and motivation may be critical for understanding the relation between mental state attribution across humans, non-humans, and imaginary companions.

The results from this study are important as they could be applied to children. If relationships between any of these variables are found in adults the age that these relationships may develop can be explored in children.