The influence of desire and knowledge on perception of each other and related mental states, and different mechanisms for blame

Sean M. Laurent, Narina L. Nuñez, Kimberly A. Schweitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Two experiments (Experiment 1 N= 350; Experiment 2 N= 153), used relatively simple (Experiment 1) and complex (Experiment 2) vignettes to investigate whether two ostensibly distinct mental states that underlie intentionality judgments influence each other, related mental states, and agent morality, and also whether they affect blame through different routes. Knowledge (that a particular action can lead to a particular outcome) affected perceptions of an agent's desire by first increasing blame, which increased perceptions that the agent was aware of acting, while acting. Desire (for a particular outcome) affected blame and perceptions of agent knowledge by increasing perceptions that the agents were immoral (measured after knowledge and desire were described, but before the agents' action and the harmful outcomes were described), which influenced perceptions of the agents' awareness. The importance of these findings for mental state perception research, including the relationship of mental states to blame, is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-38
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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