Mental State Attributions and the Side-Effect Effect

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48 (1):232-238 (2012)
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Abstract

The side-effect effect, in which an agent who does not speci␣cally intend an outcome is seen as having brought it about intentionally, is thought to show that moral factors inappropriately bias judgments of intentionality, and to challenge standard mental state models of intentionality judgments. This study used matched vignettes to dissociate a number of moral factors and mental states. Results support the view that mental states, and not moral factors, explain the side-effect effect. However, the critical mental states appear not to be desires as proposed in standard models, but rather ‘deeper’ evaluative states including values and core evaluative attitudes.

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Chandra Sripada
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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