The Paradox of Group Mind: “People in a Group” Have More Mind Than “a Group of People”

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Abstract

Three studies examine how subtle shifts in framing can alter the mind perception of groups. Study 1 finds that people generally perceive groups to have less mind than individuals. However, Study 2 demonstrates that changing the framing of a group from “a group of people” to “people in a group,” substantially increases mind perception—leading to comparable levels of mind between groups and individuals. Study 3 reveals that this change in framing influences people’s sympathy for groups, an effect mediated by mind perception. We conclude that minor linguistic shifts can have big effects on how groups are perceived—with implications for mind perception and sympathy for mass suffering.

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