David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14 (8):383-388 (2010)
Perceiving others’ minds is a crucial component of social life. People do not, however, always ascribe minds to other people, and sometimes ascribe minds to non-people (e.g. God, gadgets). This article reviews when mind perception occurs, when it does not, and why mind perception is important. Causes of mind perception stem both from the perceiver and perceived, and include the need for social connection (perceiver) and a similarity to oneself (perceived). Mind perception also has profound consequences for both the perceiver and perceived. Ascribing mind confers an entity moral rights and also makes its actions meaningful. Understanding the causes and consequences of mind perception can explain when this most social of cognitive skills will be used, and why it matters.
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