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Adults are intuitive mind-body dualists

Forstmann, Matthias, Burgmer, Pascal (2015) Adults are intuitive mind-body dualists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144 (1). pp. 222-235. ISSN 0096-3445. (doi:10.1037/xge0000045) (KAR id:71355)

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In the present research, we tested the hypotheses that (a) adults are intuitive mind-body dualists, (b) that this belief can be considered a default, and (c) that it is partially explained by essentialistic reasoning about the nature of the mind. Over 8 studies, using various thought experiment paradigms, participants reliably ascribed to a physically duplicated being a greater retention of physical than ofmental properties. This difference was unrelated to whether or not this being was given a proper name (Study 1b) and was only found for entities that were considered to actually possess a mind (Study 1c). Further, we found that an intuitive belief in mind-body dualism may in fact be considered a default: Taxing participants’ cognitive resources (Study 2) or priming them with an intuitive (vs. analytical) thinking style (Studies 3a and 3b) both increased dualistic beliefs. In a last set of studies, we found that beliefs in mind-body dualism are indeed related to essentialistic reasoning about the mind. When a living being was reassembled from its original molecules rather than recreated from new molecules, dualistic beliefs were significantly reduced (Studies 4a and 4b). Thus, results of the present research indicate that, despite any acquired scientific knowledge about the neurological origins of mental life, most adults remain “essentialistic mind-body dualists” at heart.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1037/xge0000045
Uncontrolled keywords: common-sense beliefs, naïve theories, mind-body dualism, thought experiments, essentialism, School of Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Pascal Burgmer
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2018 09:28 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Burgmer, Pascal:
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