Monday, May 11, 2020

How people perceive the minds of the dead: The importance of consciousness at the moment of death

How people perceive the minds of the dead: The importance of consciousness at the moment of death. Cameron M.Doyle, Kurt Gray. Cognition, Volume 202, September 2020, 104308. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104308

Abstract: Immortality is thought to be achieved through heroic deeds, reincarnation, and the afterlife. The present studies reveal an alternative path to transcending death: dying while conscious. Seven studies demonstrate that dying while more awake, aware and/or lucid leads people to see a richer postmortem mind—an effect we call conservation of consciousness. People see more mind in the deceased when they die with their eyes open (Study 1), and while awake (vs. in a coma), while suffering from ALS (vs. from Alzheimer's), while on hallucinogens (vs. sedatives), and while dreaming (vs. in a deep sleep; Study 2). This effect is robust, holding even in a between-subjects design, and even when participants are explicitly encouraged to interpret the mind perception items literally (Study 3). Perceived conservation of consciousness after death is driven more by general perceived awareness than by fear of death (Study 4) and predicts perceptions of mind beyond having a vivid (vs. dull) life (Study 5). The last wishes of the dying are also given more moral weight if made by those who ultimately die while conscious (Study 6). Perceived conservation of consciousness also occurs in the real-world context of a historic cemetery (Study 7). These results reveal a simple way to increase your influence after death and highlight both the power of endings and the subjective nature of mind.

Bullshit ability is predictive of participants’ intelligence and individuals capable of producing more satisfying bullshit are judged by second-hand observers to be higher in intelligence

Turpin, Martin H., Mane Kara-Yakoubian, Alexander C. Walker, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang. 2020. “Bullshit Ability as an Honest Signal of Intelligence.” PsyArXiv. May 11. doi:10.31234/osf.io/aru3f

Abstract: The ability to navigate social systems efficiently is critical to our species. Humans appear endowed with a cognitive system that has at least partially formed to best meet the unique cognitive challenges that emerge in a highly social species. Bullshitting, a style of communication characterised by an intent to be convincing or impressive without concern for the truth, is ubiquitous within human societies. Across two studies (N = 1,017), we assess whether participants’ ability to produce satisfying and seemingly accurate bullshit (i.e., explanations of fake concepts) acts as an honest signal of their intelligence. Consistent with our hypotheses, we find that bullshit ability is predictive of participants’ intelligence and individuals capable of producing more satisfying bullshit are judged by second-hand observers to be higher in intelligence. We interpret these results as adding further evidence for human intelligence being naturally geared towards the efficient navigation of social systems. The ability to produce satisfying bullshit may serve to assist individuals in negotiating their social world, both as an energetically efficient strategy for impressing others and as an honest signal of one’s intelligence.