Uncanny sociocultural categories

Uncanny Valley

Schoenherr, J. R., & Burleigh, T. J. (2015). Uncanny sociocultural categories. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1456. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01456


Jordan Schoenherr

Tyler Burleigh


January 2015



Considered individually, folkbiological categories, biological anomalies and monsters, as well as human categories represent individual cultural products of human categorization. Instead, we suggest that the uncanny valley might reflect a primary response to unfamiliar or covert categories. In the absence of having prior knowledge of an individual or group, the relative distinctiveness of a category, due to a lower frequency of exposure, will produce negative affect—an inversion of the mere-exposure effect. The deceptive simplicity of learning mechanisms can lead to important individual and social consequences.