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  1. Past research has demonstrated a link between facial expressions and mind perception, yet why expressions, especially happy expressions, influence mind attribution remains unclear. Conducting four studies, we addressed this issue. In Study 1, we investigated whether the valence or behavioral intention (i.e., approach or avoidance) implied by different emotions affected the minds ascribed to expressers. Happy (positive valence and approach intention) targets were ascribed more sophisticated minds than were targets displaying neutral, angry (negative-approach), or fearful (negative-avoidance) expressions, suggesting emotional valence was relevant to mind attribution but apparent behavioral intentions were not. We replicated this effect using both Black and White targets (Study 2) and another face database (Study 3). In Study 4, we conducted path analyses to examine attractiveness and expectations of social acceptance as potential mediators of the effect. Our findings suggest that signals of social acceptance are crucial to the effect emotional expressions have on mind perception. 
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  2. Five experiments investigate the hypothesis that heavier weight individuals are denied mental agency (i.e., higher order cognitive and intentional capacities), but not experience (e.g., emotional and sensory capacities), relative to average weight individuals. Across studies, we find that as targets increase in weight, they are denied mental agency; however, target weight has no reliable influence on ascriptions of experience (Studies 1a–2b). Furthermore, the de-mentalization of heavier weight targets was associated with both disgust and beliefs about targets’ physical agency (Study 3). Finally, de-mentalization affected role assignments. Heavier weight targets were rated as helpful for roles requiring experiential but not mentally agentic faculties (Study 4). Heavier weight targets were also less likely than chance to be categorized into a career when it was described as requiring mental agency (versus experience; Study 5). These findings suggest novel insights into past work on weight stigma, wherein discrimination often occurs in domains requiring mental agency.

     
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  3. null (Ed.)
    We tested the novel hypothesis that the dehumanization of prisoners varies as a function of how soon they will be released from prison. Seven studies indicate that people ascribe soon-to-be-released prisoners greater mental sophistication than those with more time to serve, all other things being equal. Studies 3 to 6 indicate that these effects are mediated by perceptions that imprisonment has served the functions of rehabilitation, retribution, and future deterrence. Finally, Study 7 demonstrates that beliefs about rehabilitation and deterrence may be the most important in accounting for these effects. These findings indicate that the amount of time left on a prison sentence influences mind ascription to the incarcerated, an effect that has implications for our understanding of prisoner dehumanization. 
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