The group-member mind trade-off: Attributing mind to groups versus group members

Adam Waytz*, Liane Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Scopus citations


People attribute minds to other individuals and make inferences about those individuals' mental states to explain and predict their behavior. Little is known, however, about whether people also attribute minds to groups and believe that collectives, companies, and corporations can think, have intentions, and make plans. Even less is known about the consequences of these attributions for both groups and group members. We investigated the attribution of mind and responsibility to groups and group members, and we demonstrated that people make a trade-off: The more a group is attributed a group mind, the less members of that group are attributed individual minds. Groups that are judged to have more group mind are also judged to be more cohesive and responsible for their collective actions. These findings have important implications for how people perceive the minds of groups and group members, and for how attributions of mind influence attributions of responsibility to groups and group members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012



  • groups
  • law
  • legal processes
  • mind attribution
  • morality
  • responsibility
  • social cognition
  • theory o.m.nd

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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