How Many Dimensions of Mind Perception Really Are There?

AbstractPrevious research suggests that people’s folk conception of the mind is organized along a few fundamental dimensions; but studies disagree on the exact number of those dimensions. With an expanded item pool of mental capacities, variations of question probes, and numerous judged agents, four studies provide consistent evidence for three dimensions of perceived mind: Affect [A], Moral and Mental Regulation [M], and Reality Interaction [R]. The dimensions are not simply bundles of semantically related features but capture psychological functions of the mind—to engage with its own processes, with other minds, and with the social and physical world. Under some conditions, two of the three dimensions further divide: [A] divides into negative and positive (social) affect, and [M] divides into moral cognition and social cognition. We offer a 20-item instrument to measure people’s 3- and 5-dimensional representations of human and other minds.

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