Social Connection Modulates Perceptions of Animacy

Katherine E. Powers, Andrea L. Worsham, Jonathan Freeman, Thalia Wheatley, Todd F. Heatherton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Human survival depends on identifying targets potentially capable of engaging in meaningful social connection. Using sets of morphed images created from animate (human) and inanimate (doll) faces, we found converging evidence across two studies showing that the motivation to connect with other people systematically alters the interpretation of the physical features that signal that a face is alive. Specifically, in their efforts to find and connect with other social agents, individuals who feel socially disconnected actually decrease their thresholds for what it means to be alive, consistently observing animacy when fewer definitively human cues are present. From an evolutionary perspective, overattributing animacy may be an adaptive strategy that allows people to cast a wide net when identifying possible sources of social connection and maximize their opportunities to renew social relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1943-1948
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Volume25
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 12 2014

Fingerprint

Cues
Motivation
Survival
Animacy
Physical
Social Relationships
Doll
Evolutionary

Keywords

  • face perception
  • interpersonal relationships
  • loneliness
  • motivation
  • social perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Powers, K. E., Worsham, A. L., Freeman, J., Wheatley, T., & Heatherton, T. F. (2014). Social Connection Modulates Perceptions of Animacy. Psychological Science, 25(10), 1943-1948. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614547706

Social Connection Modulates Perceptions of Animacy. / Powers, Katherine E.; Worsham, Andrea L.; Freeman, Jonathan; Wheatley, Thalia; Heatherton, Todd F.

In: Psychological Science, Vol. 25, No. 10, 12.10.2014, p. 1943-1948.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Powers, KE, Worsham, AL, Freeman, J, Wheatley, T & Heatherton, TF 2014, 'Social Connection Modulates Perceptions of Animacy', Psychological Science, vol. 25, no. 10, pp. 1943-1948. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614547706
Powers KE, Worsham AL, Freeman J, Wheatley T, Heatherton TF. Social Connection Modulates Perceptions of Animacy. Psychological Science. 2014 Oct 12;25(10):1943-1948. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614547706
Powers, Katherine E. ; Worsham, Andrea L. ; Freeman, Jonathan ; Wheatley, Thalia ; Heatherton, Todd F. / Social Connection Modulates Perceptions of Animacy. In: Psychological Science. 2014 ; Vol. 25, No. 10. pp. 1943-1948.
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