PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF THE AGENT VERSUS RECIPIENT PERSPECTIVE
This project aims at empirical verification of a new, broad theory of social psychology – the Agent-Recipient Model (ARM). ARM starts with a simple observation that each social interaction involves at least two separate perspectives – a point of view of a person performing an action (the agent perspective) and a point of view of person at whom the action is directed and who experiences it outcomes. The two perspectives are complementary and define each other – there cannot be an agent without a recipient (aggression requires both a perpetrator and a victim, similarly helping requires both a person who gives help and a person who receives the help). Therefore, a parallel emergence of both these perspectives is a defining feature of social interaction and the capacity to assume each the perspectives is a defining feature of human mind. Research on mind perception in a variety of entities shows two separate dimensions of the perceived human mind Instead of one). The first is agency understood as an ability to act, to plan and to self –control. The second is experience or the ability to feel and experience (Gray et al., 2007). Similarly, research on dehumanization shows it may take two forms – denying others, especially out-groups, the ability to act in a thoughtful and civilized way (animalization – treating people as animals) or denying them the capacity to experience in a typically human way (robotization – treating people like machines) (Haslam et al., 2008).
The perspectives fluctuate – the same interactants can take each position interchangeably, like speaker and listeners do during a conversation. Still, the perspective leads to differences in psychological processes and behavior because the objective situation and goals of agents and recipients differ. Whereas the agent position means the capacity to act and involves the focus on goalattainment, the recipient position means being subjected to others’ actions and focus on understanding their reasons and social consequences. In effect, the agent experiences an increase in personal control and meaningfulness (accompanied by increases in affect and positive emotions) and becomes focused on monitoring the efficiency of his/her own actions which is indispensable for goal-attainment. On the other hand, the recipient experiences increased feelings of vulnerability (accompanied by decreases in affect and increases in negative emotions) and becomes focused on social consequences of the agents’
actions (whether they are good or bad for persons surrounding the agent). ARM assumes that these basic differences have far reaching consequences for cognitive, emotional, motivational, and social functioning of persons occupying the agent vs. recipient perspective.