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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Dec;101(6):1207-20. doi: 10.1037/a0025883. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

More than a body: mind perception and the nature of objectification.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA. kurtgray@umd.edu

Abstract

According to models of objectification, viewing someone as a body induces de-mentalization, stripping away their psychological traits. Here evidence is presented for an alternative account, where a body focus does not diminish the attribution of all mental capacities but, instead, leads perceivers to infer a different kind of mind. Drawing on the distinction in mind perception between agency and experience, it is found that focusing on someone's body reduces perceptions of agency (self-control and action) but increases perceptions of experience (emotion and sensation). These effects were found when comparing targets represented by both revealing versus nonrevealing pictures (Experiments 1, 3, and 4) or by simply directing attention toward physical characteristics (Experiment 2). The effect of a body focus on mind perception also influenced moral intuitions, with those represented as a body seen to be less morally responsible (i.e., lesser moral agents) but more sensitive to harm (i.e., greater moral patients; Experiments 5 and 6). These effects suggest that a body focus does not cause objectification per se but, instead, leads to a redistribution of perceived mind.

PMID:
22059848
DOI:
10.1037/a0025883
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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