Although work in the experimental philosophy of consciousness has investigated a number of intriguing questions, much of this work has been concerned in one way or another with the importance of the body.
Most of the studies in this tradition make use of the same sort of method. Participants are asked to consider an entity that does not have a biological body (a robot, a corporation, God). Participants are then given a series of questions about this entity's psychological states. Does it know that 2 + 2 = 4? Can it plan for the future? Can it feel happy? Such studies appear to be pointing to a surprising conclusion. It looks like people think that disembodied entites can have psychological states of various sorts but that they cannot have states that require phenomenal consciousness. (See this post for a quick summary.)
But now suppose we go in the opposite direction. Suppose we find an entity that is even more saliently embodied than you or I. What sorts of psychological states might people ascribe to an entity like that?
Within each condition, participants were asked to judge the degree to which she was capable of self control, planning and acting morally (what we called agency) and also about the degree to which she was capable of having various phenomenal states (what we called experience).
One plausible hypothesis would be that as the person's body was made ever more salient, people would be ever more inclined to treat her as a mere object and would therefore be less inclined to attribute psychological states to her across the board. But that was not what occurred. Instead, the results came out as follows:
In other words, when the body was made more salient, people decreased their ascriptions of agency, but they actually increased their ascriptions of experience.
In short, it doesn't look like body salience is leading to 'objectification' (treating a person like a mere object). Instead, we seem to be getting something that might be called animalification -- treating a person as though she lacks the intentional states that are seen as uniquely human but has more of the phenomenal states we would normally associate with other animals.
[The full paper is available here, but feel free to comment even if you have not gotten a chance to read it.]