For living beings, including humans, it is important to identify other animate entities to survive, as these could be prey, predators, or mates. One of the main cues for humans to identify an entity as animate is its agency. However, sometimes people also ascribe agency to ontologically non-animate entities, such as social robots. Does that suggest that they are also perceived as animate?
To address these questions, cognitive and perceptual laboratories typically place participants in an experimental quarantine, away from confounds of social influence. However, cognition and perception are enveloped by social context – the real or imagined presence of others.
Hence, in this project, we aim to address the effect of the social context on the percept of agency.