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Abstract

People generally enjoy acts of self-expression, going out of their way to share their preferences and opinions even absent a decision. However, people are nevertheless not always forthcoming with how they truly feel, fearing that their views will be judged negatively by others or that they will be seen as unprofessional. In other cases, they may simply lack a preference altogether. Is failing to state how one feels, in terms of one’s preferences and opinions, either because one is concealing them or because one lacks them, a good move socially or one with (possibly hidden) costs? How do we perceive such individuals? Across two chapters, I investigate how preferences and opinions (or lack thereof) link to humanity. Chapter 1 examines perceptions of indifference as they pertain to subjective choice, finding that people dehumanize those who lack subjective preferences, like a favorite food or music, because they are seen as less distinct. Chapter 2 investigates perceptions of sociopolitical undecidedness, revealing that people attribute less mind to those who are undecided on sociopolitical issues, such as abortion and gun control, compared to those with whom the perceiver agrees and, in some cases, disagrees politically. Perceived caring underlies the effect. Taken together, this research documents a hidden cost of withholding one’s preferences and opinions.

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