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Exploring how harming and helping behaviors drive prediction and explanation during anthropomorphism

Harris, LT; Van Etten, N; Gimenez-Fernandez, T; (2021) Exploring how harming and helping behaviors drive prediction and explanation during anthropomorphism. Social Neuroscience , 16 (1) pp. 39-56. 10.1080/17470919.2020.1799859. Green open access

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Abstract

Cacioppo and colleagues advanced the study of anthropomorphism by positing three motives that moderated the occurrence of this phenomenon; belonging, effectance, and explanation. Here, we further this literature by exploring the extent to which the valence of a target’s behavior influences its anthropomorphism when perceivers attempt to explain and predict that target’s behavior, and the involvement of brain regions associated with explanation and prediction in such anthropomorphism. Participants viewed videos of varying visually complex agents - geometric shapes, computer generated (CG) faces, and greebles - in nonrandom motion performing harming and helping behaviors. Across two studies, participants reported a narrative that explained the observed behavior (both studies) while we recorded brain activity (study one), and participants predicted future behavior of the protagonist shapes (study two). Brain regions implicated in prediction error (striatum), not language generation (inferior frontal gyrus; IFG) engaged more to harming than helping behaviors during the anthropomorphism of such stimuli. Behaviorally, we found greater anthropomorphism in explanations of harming rather than helping behaviors, but the opposite pattern when participants predicted the agents’ behavior. Together, these studies build upon the anthropomorphism literature by exploring how the valence of behavior drives explanation and prediction.

Type: Article
Title: Exploring how harming and helping behaviors drive prediction and explanation during anthropomorphism
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2020.1799859
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/17470919.2020.1799859
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Anthropomorphism, social cognition, belonging, narrative, prediction, explanation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106729
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