Folk Attributions of Control and Intentionality Over Mental States


Influential theories in social psychology, philosophy, and linguistics assume that ordinary people judge many mental states as outside voluntary control, yet few studies have directly investigated these claims. We report four studies suggesting that, contrary to several prominent models, ordinary people attribute at least moderate intentional control to others over a wide variety of mental states. Furthermore, it appears that perceived control may vary systematically according to mental state type (e.g. emotions vs. desires vs. beliefs). These results point to several important directions for future research in behavior explanation and moral judgment.

Back to Table of Contents