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Perspect Psychol Sci. 2010 May;5(3):219-32. doi: 10.1177/1745691610369336.

Who Sees Human? The Stability and Importance of Individual Differences in Anthropomorphism.

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Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, IL.
Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, IL.


Anthropomorphism is a far-reaching phenomenon that incorporates ideas from social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and the neurosciences. Although commonly considered to be a relatively universal phenomenon with only limited importance in modern industrialized societies-more cute than critical-our research suggests precisely the opposite. In particular, we provide a measure of stable individual differences in anthropomorphism that predicts three important consequences for everyday life. This research demonstrates that individual differences in anthropomorphism predict the degree of moral care and concern afforded to an agent, the amount of responsibility and trust placed on an agent, and the extent to which an agent serves as a source of social influence on the self. These consequences have implications for disciplines outside of psychology including human-computer interaction, business (marketing and finance), and law. Concluding discussion addresses how understanding anthropomorphism not only informs the burgeoning study of nonpersons, but how it informs classic issues underlying person perception as well.


anthropomorphism; individual differences; social cognition

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