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      Making sense by making sentient: Effectance motivation increases anthropomorphism.

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          Abstract

          People commonly anthropomorphize nonhuman agents, imbuing everything from computers to pets to gods with humanlike capacities and mental experiences. Although widely observed, the determinants of anthropomorphism are poorly understood and rarely investigated. We propose that people anthropomorphize, in part, to satisfy effectance motivation-the basic and chronic motivation to attain mastery of one's environment. Five studies demonstrated that increasing effectance motivation by manipulating the perceived unpredictability of a nonhuman agent or by increasing the incentives for mastery increases anthropomorphism. Neuroimaging data demonstrated that the neural correlates of this process are similar to those engaged when mentalizing other humans. A final study demonstrated that anthropomorphizing a stimulus makes it appear more predictable and understandable, suggesting that anthropomorphism satisfies effectance motivation. Anthropomorphizing nonhuman agents seems to satisfy the basic motivation to make sense of an otherwise uncertain environment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved).

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
          Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
          American Psychological Association (APA)
          1939-1315
          0022-3514
          2010
          2010
          : 99
          : 3
          : 410-435
          Article
          10.1037/a0020240
          20649365
          333d95c2-bc03-455d-8cb6-e68896b6d727
          © 2010
          History

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