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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Nonhuman agents are sometimes attributed humanlike characteristics, particularly mental states of thoughts, feelings, intentions, and conscious experience. Because such anthropomorphism emerges early in life and continues through adulthood in at least some cultures, it may appear to be an innate and automatic phenomenon. However, the psychological processes that enable people to reason about the minds of others suggests that such inferences require cognitive effort and motivation, meaning that anthropomorphism arises only when triggered by one's goals or the situational context to consider the mind of another agent. These triggers identify important moderators of anthropomorphism in adulthood, providing insight into when people are likely to attribute humanlike minds to nonhuman agents and when they are not.

Keywords: anthropomorphism, mind perception, social cognition, theory of mind

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