Dimensions of mind perception in faces Restricted; Files Only

Wang, Shensheng (Summer 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/f1881n04n?locale=en


Philosophers have long argued that we do not have a direct, perceptual, access to the mental lives of others. Nevertheless, recent development in philosophy and psychology challenges this epistemological position by raising the questions of whether we perceive minds in faces and if so, what perceptual experience it entails. In four studies, I addressed these questions by examining whether faces automatically trigger mind awareness, and particularly what minds human faces elicit compared with artificial (Study 1 and Study 2) and dog faces (Study 3). In addition, I probed the cognitive penetrability of mind perception by examining how knowledge about others’ mental capacities influences the perception of minds in faces (Study 4). The studies showed that compared with human faces, both artificial and dog faces were automatically imbued by participants with lesser minds, in other words, dehumanized. In particular, artificial and dog faces elicited differential dehumanization, the magnitude of which varied along two distinct dimensions—agency and experience. Furthermore, prior beliefs about someone lacking either agency or experience lowered participants’ threshold for detecting minds in faces. Taken together, these findings corroborate the two-dimensional structure of mind perception in faces and provide preliminary evidence for our perceptual knowledge of other minds via face perception. I discuss the implications of these findings for the other minds problem in philosophy and the uncanny valley phenomenon in robotics.  In closing, I point to tracing the developmental roots of mind perception in infant face perception as a fruitful future direction.  

Table of Contents

A Brief History of Research on Mind Perception. 2

Two Approaches to Examining the Face-Mind Linkage. 4

Anthropomorphism and Dehumanization. 8

Current Research. 11

Study 1. 13

Methods. 14

Participants. 14

Stimuli 15

Design and Procedure. 16

Planned Data Analysis. 17

Results and Discussion. 18

Study 2. 19

Methods. 20

Participants. 20

Stimuli 21

Design and Procedure. 21

Planned Data Analysis. 21

Results and Discussion. 21

Study 3. 23

Methods. 24

Participants. 24

Stimuli 24

Design and Procedure. 24

Planned Data Analysis. 24

Results and Discussion. 25

Study 4. 26

Methods. 27

Participants. 27

Stimuli 28

Design and Procedure. 28

Planned Data Analysis. 29

Results and Discussion. 29

General Discussion. 31

Perceiving other minds: What is at stake?. 32

Summary of Study 1 and 2. 33

Summary of Study 3. 34

Summary of Study 4. 36

Temporal Dynamics of Mind Perception in Faces and the Uncanny Valley. 40

Origins of Mind Perception and Anthropomorphism.. 44

References. 51

Table 1. 66

Table 2. 67

Table 3. 68

Table 4. 69

Figure 1. 70

Figure 2. 71

Figure 3. 72

Figure 4. 73

Figure 5. 74

Appendix A: A Trial from a Congruent Block in Study 1. 75

Appendix B: Stimulus Words for the IAT in Study 1. 76

Appendix C: Stimulus Words for the IAT in Study 2. 77

Appendix D: Vignettes in Study 4. 78

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