The good ship Theseus: The effect of valence on object identity judgments

Julian De FreitasDepartment of Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Kevin TobiaDepartment of Philosophy, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
George E. NewmanSchool of Management, Yale University, New Haven, USA
Joshua KnobeProgram in Cognitive Science, Yale University, New Haven, USA

Abstract

How do ordinary people decide whether an individual object at t1 is the same individual at t2? We show that valence—people’s value judgments about whether a given trait is good or bad—can influence this decision. This effect is explained by people’s tendency to believe that the underlying essence of an entity is good, and may be part of a far wider phenomenon of how people understand essences in general—be they of humans, categories, or even non-human objects.

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The good ship Theseus: The effect of valence on object identity judgments (279 KB)



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