Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our mindreading of another person depends on how much skin we see!

This interesting piece in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology makes observations on how our mindreading, or inferring someone's nature, depends on how much of them we are seeing. From the introduction:
Do people’s mental capacities fundamentally change when they remove a sweater? This seems absurd: How could removing a piece of clothing change one’s capacity for acting or feeling? In six studies, however, we show that taking off a sweater—or otherwise revealing flesh—can significantly change the way a mind is perceived. In this article, we suggest that the kind of mind ascribed to another person depends on the relative salience of his or her body—that the perceived capacity for both pain and planned action depends on whether someone wears a sweater or tank-top.
The abstract:
According to models of objectification, viewing someone as a body induces de-mentalization, stripping away their psychological traits. Here evidence is presented 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, it is found 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 in three experiments when comparing targets represented by both revealing versus nonrevealing pictures or by simply directing attention toward physical characteristics. In two further experiments he 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). These effects suggest that a body focus does not cause objectification per se but, instead, leads to a redistribution of perceived mind.


  1. Difficult language for me to grasp....

    But reminds me of a relaxed fellow I once knew often nude at home or beach. When I arrived to visit, he was sprawled undressed on his deck chair.

    The doorbell rang. I volunteered to answer. With his permission, I invited a svelte and charming IRS agent into his home and directed her to the sun-filled deck.

    He did not dress and she did not blink. A few minutes later, they each agreed he'd mail his tardy returns. As she rose to shake his hand and I accompanied her to the door, I realized I'd experienced 1970s tolerance I would never see again.

    Bare to an audit? Yes indeed will lead to a redistribution of perceived mind!!

  2. Anonymous3:21 AM

    there are these things called microexpressions


    we pick up most of this stuff unconsciously, because most people who got a social life learn this thing intuitively

    reading body language is a right brain activity

    writing long boring stuff is a left brain activity

    right brainer = dancer, actor, artist

    left brainer = nerd, geek, dork

    the education system favours left brain thinking and obedience

    people who are effortlessly successfull are right brainers who got confidence too


    you like it or not, your success depends on other people and that depends on how you communicate and that depends on body language, which is 90% of our communication

    so this is why we have the stereotype of the A+ student who sucks at sales and with 99% chance will never get rich, because he focuses on stuff that`s only 10% effective and in most cases intrusive to people

    check out the stats behind the Myers-Briggs


    most people are feeling based and down to earth, you can`t connect with them by debating theories

    just because you`d like the world to be one way, that doesn`t make it so, maybe it`s so in your little soap bubble, until it pops

    by the way, I was doing some search for blogs on "meditation" and yours came up on the list

    well I don`t know who the hell made that piece of crap software, but ain`t seein` no "calm you mind" stuff here

    no mp3, no vids, no exercises

    maybe you want to change your taglines

    google is overrated

  3. Being undressed throws one back to more "natural" behaving compared to biased behaving when wearing tie or sneakers or muscle-shirt.

    Maybe it's just that less close one wears more "natural" and less controlled one comes up and is easier to be read.

    One of the reasons, why politicians usually avoid bathing suits. (Exception: politicians where physical appearance is a role-model for itself, Putin, Schwarzenegger ie)

  4. Jeepers.

    Mr. Anonymous is doin' some of that feelings-based what-not, I'd say!

    Well, according to some models of objectification, anyways.