Triggering the intentional stance

Raymond A. Mar, C. Neil Macrae

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution

16 Citations (Scopus)


While humans possess a ready capacity to view a target (biological or otherwise) as an intentional agent (i.e. the 'intentional stance'), the conditions necessary for spontaneously eliciting these mentalizing processes are less well understood. Although research examining people's tendency to construe the motion of geometric shapes as intentional has done much to illuminate this issue, due to methodological limitations (a reliance on subjective self-report) this work has not fully addressed the potentially automatic and obligatory nature of mentalizing. Acknowledging this problem, recent research using prelinguistic infants, neuroimaging technology and methods that avoid explicit self-report all provide unique paths to circumvent this shortcoming. While work of this kind has generally corroborated the results of previous investigations, it has also raised a number of new issues. One such issue is whether spontaneous mentalizing processes for abstract non-biological stimuli are instantiated in the same neural architecture as those for realistic representations of intentional biological agents. This question is considered in the current chapter.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmpathy and Fairness
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006

Publication series

NameNovartis Foundation Symposium
ISSN (Print)1528-2511


Dive into the research topics of 'Triggering the intentional stance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this