Expanding the Mind Club: Dimensions of Mind Perception

Tzelios, K. (UNSW Sydney), Williams, L. A. (UNSW Sydney), Bliss-Moreau, E., (University of California Davis)

The dimensional nature of mind perception is subject to debate, though a bidimensional approach comprising agency and experience is commonly adopted by social psychologists. The majority of research to date, however, derived dimensions using only a limited sample of human, non-human animal, and non-animal entities, perhaps limiting the resulting conclusions regarding the nature of mind perception. Across three studies (total N = 270), we thus aimed to determine the extant dimensions of mind perception including a representative sample of 40 human, non-human animal, and non-animal entities. In all three studies, exploratory factor analyses indicated that mind perception is best captured by a single dimension with 82-84% variance explained. When we forced a two-factor solution in confirmatory analyses, the resulting solution roughly mapped onto two dimensions (agency and experience) as revealed in prior research, though model fit was unsatisfactory (with the second factor yielding eigenvalues < 1.0). Taken together, findings suggest that the popular bidimensional approach to mind perception may be inappropriate in the context of an expanded population of entities. Instead, a single dimension appears to best capture the attribution (or denial) of mind when the rich array of entities in the world is taken into account.

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