IACM 2022 Abstract Book »
How does Variability Affect Humanization? Variable (vs. Constant) Behavior Increases Perceptions of Experience, but Decreases Perceptions of Agency
We test how variability (versus consistency) in a target person’s behavior affects the extent to which observers (de)humanize this target. In Studies 1-2, we find that greater variability in behavior leads to increased humanization of the target on the experience dimension (the ability to feel), but decreased humanization on the agency dimension (cognitive capacities). Study 3 examines whether these effects are driven by behavioral variability, or by uncertainty of the target’s inner mental states that accompanies it. Results suggest that experience perceptions are driven by variability, while agency perceptions are driven by uncertainty. Finally, Studies 4a and 4b replicate these findings using a target who belongs to a typically dehumanized group. Overall, our findings suggest that behavioral variability is an important predictor of humanization perceptions.