Abstract: According to models of objectification, viewing someone as a body induces dementalization, stripping away their psychological traits. We present evidence for an alternative account where a body focus does not diminish the attribution of all mental capacities, but instead leads perceivers to infer a different kind of mind. Drawing on the distinction in mind perception between agency and experience, we find that focusing on someone’s body reduces perceptions of agency (self-control and action), but increases perceptions of experience (emotion and sensation). These effects were found when comparing targets represented by both revealing vs. non-revealing pictures (Experiments 1, 3 and 4) or by simply directing attention towards physical characteristics (Experiment 2). The effect of a body focus on mind perception also influenced moral intuitions, with those represented as a body seen to be less morally responsible (i.e., lesser moral agents), but more sensitive to harm (i.e., greater moral patients; Experiments 5 and 6). These effects suggest that a body focus does not cause objectification per se, but instead leads to a redistribution of perceived mind.
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