Are Artworks More Like People than Artifacts? Individual Concepts and Their Extensions

Topics in Cognitive Science, 6, 647-662, 2014

16 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2015

See all articles by George Newman

George Newman

Yale School of Management

Daniel M. Bartels

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Rosanna Smith

University of Georgia

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

This paper examines people's reasoning about identity continuity (i.e., how people decide that a particular object is the same object over time) and its relation to previous research on how people value one-of-a-kind artifacts, such as artwork. We propose that judgments about the continuity of artworks are related to judgments about the continuity of individual persons because art objects are seen as physical extensions of their creators. We report a reanalysis of previous data and the results of two new empirical studies that test this hypothesis. The first study demonstrates that the mere categorization of an object as 'art' versus 'a tool' changes people's intuitions about the persistence of those objects over time. In a second study, we examine some conditions that may lead artworks to be thought of as different from other artifacts. These observations inform both current understanding of what makes some objects one-of-a-kind as well as broader questions regarding the nature of people's intuitive theories for tracking the persistence of human agents.

Suggested Citation

Newman, George and Bartels, Daniel M. and Smith, Rosanna, Are Artworks More Like People than Artifacts? Individual Concepts and Their Extensions (2014). Topics in Cognitive Science, 6, 647-662, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2649204

George Newman

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

Daniel M. Bartels (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Rosanna Smith

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

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