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Dehumanization increases instrumental violence, but not moral violence

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Abstract

Significance To eliminate violence, we must understand the motives that drive it. Most theories assume that violence is motivated by instrumental gain or impulsiveness, and is restrained by moral inhibitions. In these frameworks, dehumanization breaks down moral inhibitions by reducing perceptions of victims as fellow human beings worthy of concern. However, we argue that much violence is actually motivated by moral sentiments, and that morally motivated perpetrators wish to harm fellow human beings. Across five experiments, we show that dehumanizing victims increases instrumental, but not moral, violence. This distinction, between instrumental violence enabled by dehumanization, and moral violence directed toward human victims, has important implications for understanding how morality and dehumanization interact with violence, and for informing violence reduction efforts worldwide.

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... We refer to this claim as the moral disengagement hypothesis (see [1]). This may explain why mind denial has been implicated in colonial oppression and other acts of instrumental violence [16,17]. However, mind denial is also pervasive in everyday life, emerging in the workplace [18], healthcare [19], and men's sexualized perceptions of women [15]. ...
... The pervasiveness of mind denial in everyday life lends itself to critiques about whether it indeed facilitates mass violence. Such critiques suggest that perpetrators-rather than deny their victims' minds-often inflict suffering precisely because they consider their victims to have malevolent intentions and beliefs [6,16,20]. Moreover, that many perpetrators derive sadistic pleasure from degrading their victims suggests they implicitly recognize their victims' capacity to experience this mistreatment [21,22]. ...
... However, empirical evidence linking dehumanization to actual instances of mass violence is lacking. Moreover, a growing body of scholars have questioned this "moral disengagement" hypothesis by pointing out that perpetrators often inflict harm precisely because they recognize their victims' capacity for fundamentally human mental states-concluding that dehumanization is of limited relevance to mass violence (e.g., [6,16,[20][21][22]). ...
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Dehumanization is frequently cited as a precursor to mass violence, but quantitative support for this notion is scarce. The present work provides such support by examining the dehumanization of Jews in Nazi propaganda. Our linguistic analysis suggests that Jews were progressively denied the capacity for fundamentally human mental experiences leading up to the Holocaust. Given that the recognition of another’s mental experience promotes moral concern, these results are consistent with the theory that dehumanization facilitates violence by dis engaging moral concern. However, after the onset of the Holocaust, our results suggest that Jews were attributed a greater capacity for agentic mental states. We speculate this may reflect a process of demonization in which Nazi propagandists portrayed the Jews as highly capable of planning and intentionality while nonetheless possessing a subhuman moral character. These suggestive results paint a nuanced portrait of the temporal dynamics of dehumanization during the Holocaust and provide impetus for further empirical scrutiny of dehumanization in ecologically valid contexts.
... This account integrates the insight that dehumanisation entails a denial of humanity, affirms that it constitutes an affront to fundamental human interests, needs and rights and resonates with the idea that dehumanisation involves a failure of recognition that impacts our emotional engagement with others. Moreover, it can accommodate critiques by scholars who hold that the concept of dehumanisation is overused to account for abuse, cruelty and other forms of mistreatment (Lang, 2010(Lang, , 2020Manne, 2019;Over, 2021;Rai et al., 2017) by clarifying the distinct form of misrecognition that characterises dehumanisation. ...
... This last point relates to critiques that the notion of dehumanisation is overused to account for abuse, cruelty and other forms of mistreatment (Lang, 2010(Lang, , 2020Manne, 2019;Over, 2021;Rai et al., 2017). These authors warn against resorting to dehumanisation to make sense of allegedly inhumane forms of violence that actually can better be explained, not by claiming that perpetrators become blind for the human aspect of their victims, but by unravelling how the human aspect of their victims inspires and fuels the mistreatment. ...
... Treatments are also dehumanising when the human subjectivity of victims is recognised, but not attributed any positive moral value. My account of dehumanisation can thus accommodate for critiques that the concept of dehumanisation is overused to account for abuse, cruelty and other forms of mistreatment (Lang, 2010(Lang, , 2020Manne, 2019;Over, 2021;Rai et al., 2017). By specifying that one form of dehumanisation consists in the failure to recognise the moral relevance of people's human subjectivity, my perspective acknowledges that perpetrators can recognise that their victims have human subjective experiences, which shape their interactions with others. ...
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Dehumanisation is an elusive concept. While the term itself indicates that its meaning relates to a process that negatively affects the human aspect of the object involved, it proves more difficult to pinpoint what the ‘human aspect’ in this formula entails precisely or how dehumanisation can negatively affect it. This article aims to contribute to ongoing academic debates about dehumanisation by presenting a new way to understand this notion, which places the failure to recognise the moral relevance of human subjectivity at its conceptual core. The main argument is that dehumanisation involves a failure to recognise what matters most about human beings in a normative sense, namely the fact that their human subjectivity counts as a moral reason against mistreating them. This line of thought has the potential to bring together various strands in the available literature. The account integrates the insight that dehumanisation entails a denial of humanity, resonates with the idea that dehumanisation involves a particular form of moral exclusion and affirms that dehumanisation constitutes an affront to fundamental human interests, needs and rights.
... That is, objectification exists in various domains, including the workplace (e.g., Andrighetto et al., 2017;Belmi & Schroeder, 2021), intergroup relations (e.g., Haslam & Loughnan, 2012;Markowitz & Slovic, 2020), medical field (e.g., Boysen et al., 2020;Raja et al., 2015), as well as general social interaction occurring on a daily basis (e.g., Landau et al., 2012;Teng, Chen, Poon, Zhang, Jiang et al., 2016;Wang & Krumhuber, 2017). Needless to say, objectification causes severe consequences, ranging from interpersonal indifference, reduced empathy and helping, aggression and bully, to even killing and genocide (e.g., Čehajić et al., 2009;Obermann, 2011;Poon, Chen, Teng, Wong et al., 2020a;Rai et al., 2017;Stanton, 2013). Given the detrimental outcomes, it is important to find interventions to alleviate objectification, an area that has received little attention from scholars previously (Haslam & Loughnan, 2014). ...
... More interestingly, experiencing gratitude not only makes people demonstrate prosociality toward the person who helped them (Stellar et al., 2017) but also makes people more likely to help others apart from their initial benefactor (Bartlett & DeSteno, 2006;Nowak & Roch, 2007). Meanwhile, objectification often results from self-centeredness or self-interested behavior (i.e., considering how others can be used to achieve one's own goal, Wang et al., 2020) and it naturally leads to indifference and even immoral behavior (Haslam & Loughnan, 2014;Nussbaum, 1995;Rai et al., 2017;Wang & Krumhuber, 2017). Therefore, the moral and other-orientation functions of gratitude can potentially act as a buffer against objectification during interpersonal processes. ...
... Objectification refers to treating others merely as things or tools while denying their mind (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997;Nussbaum, 1995). Needless to say, objectification causes severe consequences, ranging from interpersonal indifference, reduced empathy and helping, aggression and bully, to even killing and genocide (e.g., Čehajić et al., 2009;Obermann, 2011;Rai et al., 2017;Stanton, 2013;Viki et al., 2013). Given the detrimental outcomes, it is important to find interventions to alleviate objectification, an area that has received little attention from scholars previously (Haslam & Loughnan, 2014). ...
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Objectification, treating others merely as things or tools while denying their personhood, results in severe consequences. While prior research predominantly focused on the triggers of objectification, we aimed to investigate a possible intervention. We hypothesized that gratitude could reduce objectification toward general others (i.e., people who are not the benefactors). Across three studies (N = 1007), our hypothesis was supported. Study 1 showed that dispositional gratitude negatively predicted trait objectification. Studies 2 and 3 further found a causal relationship. Specifically, after heightening participants’ state of gratitude, participants showed a lower level of objectification towards others (Study 2). Using a scenario study that described a working context, we further showed the alleviating effect of gratitude on objectification toward a group of factory workers, targets often suffering from objectification (Study 3). Our reported effect is prevalent, such that it is observed across samples from two countries (i.e., the United States and China).
... Some people might genuinely believe that outgroups such as immigrants are unevolved, while others might dislike immigrants because they come from different cultures. Both perspectives are equivalent in traditional conceptualizations of dehumanization (see [15]), though they are clearly associated with different social and psychological dynamics. The former example denies the humanity of immigrants and is blatantly dehumanizing while the latter example is associated with heightened negative affect, but not the denial of a group's humanity. ...
... To disentangle how people feel toward immigrants as a reflection of their humanness judgments, we draw on prior literature that identifies dominant rationales for dehumanization. Specifically, we test the less than human hypothesis [9,14], the virtuous violence hypothesis [15,16], and the affect heuristic hypothesis [17]. While the differences between hypotheses are addressed below, there are several commonalities worthy of discussion. ...
... Violence and associated dehumanization, therefore, is intentional and facilitated by a need to achieve instrumental violence (e.g., violence used to obtain a secondary goal). An ingroup (e.g., Americans) typically believes that it is their right and purpose to harm others who are human and capable of agency (e.g., immigrants) to help pursue other instrumental goals or tasks [15]. A similar argument has been proposed in other settings, such as the approval of war crimes when the war was believed to be justified [20]. ...
Article
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Dehumanization is a topic of significant interest for academia and society at large. Empirical studies often have people rate the evolved nature of outgroups and prior work suggests immigrants are common victims of less-than-human treatment. Despite existing work that suggests who dehumanizes particular outgroups and who is often dehumanized, the extant literature knows less about why people dehumanize outgroups such as immigrants. The current work takes up this opportunity by examining why people dehumanize immigrants said to be illegal and how measurement format affects dehumanization ratings. Participants (N = 672) dehumanized such immigrants more if their ratings were made on a slider versus clicking images of hominids, an effect most pronounced for Republicans. Dehumanization was negatively associated with warmth toward illegal immigrants and the perceived unhappiness felt by illegal immigrants from U.S. immigration policies. Finally, most dehumanization is not entirely blatant but instead, captured by virtuous violence and affect as well, suggesting the many ways that dehumanization can manifest as predicted by theory. This work offers a mechanistic account for why people dehumanize immigrants and addresses how survey measurement artifacts (e.g., clicking on images of hominids vs. using a slider) affect dehumanization rates. We discuss how these data extend dehumanization theory and inform empirical research.
... One reason to suspect this to be the case is that in the realm of interpersonal relations the opposite of anthropomorphization, 'dehumanization', (i.e. the denial of human qualities to interaction partners) has been shown to have substantial effects on the way that people relate to others (Zhang, Chan, Xia, Tian, & Zhu, 2017). Specifically, dehumanized others are often treated as unworthy of moral concern (Rai, Valdesolo, & Graham, 2017). We can think of dehumanization as the flipside of anthropomorphization, since both work through the ascription, or denial, of the capacities of mind (agency and experience) to a target (Waytz, Gray, et al., 2010). ...
... Since entities that get attributed relatively little experience are, by definition, incapable of experiencing pain or pleasure, people tend not to take any benefits or damages to such entities into account when deciding how to treat them (Sundar, 2020). As a result, a relationship with entities perceived to be low in experience is more likely to be seen in instrumental terms: as a means to an end rather than as an end in itself (see Rai et al., 2017Rai et al., , 2018. ...
... When combined, the effect of these two ingredients-moral cognition and social identity-may substantially increase violence beyond what either facilitates alone. A striking example of this destructive change is that dehumanization allows people to condone violence against outgroup victims for instrumentally beneficial, but perhaps immoral reasons, and yet does not seem to be necessary for violence committed for moral reasons (Rai, Valdesolo, & Graham, 2017). Concomitantly, a growing body of literature suggests that parochial altruism and war may have coevolved (e.g., Choi & Bowles, 2007;Ginges & Atran, 2011). ...
... Focusing on this national level, in accordance with its relationship to the individual level, could prove more valuable than investigating either independently. Additionally, since recent research suggests that dehumanization of victims is associated with increased instrumental violence, but not moral violence (Rai et al., 2017), it is important to keep in mind that humanization interventions, such as emphasizing the emotions of outgroups (McDonald et al., 2017), might prove to be less effective for mitigating violent conflicts that are morally motivated. ...
Article
Past research finds contradictory evidence suggesting that religion both reduces and increases violent conflict. We argue that morality is an important hub mechanism that can help us understand this disputed relationship. Moreover, to reconcile this, as well as the factors underlying religion's impact on increased violence (i.e., belief versus practice), we draw on Virtuous Violence Theory and newly synthesize it with research on both moral cognition and social identity. We suggest that the combined effect of moral cognition and social identity may substantially increase violence beyond what either facilitates alone. We test our claims using multilevel analysis of data from the World Values Survey and find a nuanced effect of religion on people's beliefs about violence. Specifically, religious individuals were less likely to condone violence while religious countries were more likely to. This combination of theoretical and empirical work helps disentangle the interwoven nature of morality, religion, and violence.
... However, this "explosion of dehumanization research", as Haslam and Stratemeyer (2016, 25) put it, and the theoretical conceptualizations that followed have recently faced serious criticism (Rai et al. 2017;Manne 2018;Lang 2020), the most systematic one by Harriet Over (2021a). 5 I find this criticism convincing and have Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. ...
Article
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The last decade or so has witnessed a wave of empirical studies purporting to show that men’s sexual focus on the female body leads to increased hostility and aggression against women. According to what I call “The Objectification Hypothesis”, the explanation for this phenomenon has to do with the fact that, in such circumstances, men “objectify” women, that is, regard them as mere objects or as means only. The paper rejects this hypothesis and offers an alternative explanation for the connection between men’s sexual gaze and their aggression against women. This explanation makes no reference to the notions of seeing-other-as-object or of treating-as-means-only. Instead, it locates the dynamic at hand within the theoretical framework of misogyny along the lines developed by Kate Manne.
... As a result of the government's efforts to transform the area, most of El Cartucho today is the Tercer Milenio Park, and the Bronx (also known as La Ele) is an empty lot surrounded by security fences. Sweet Home deconstructs this dehumanisation of the barrios as well as the municipal administration's and press's "failure to recognize other people [and their spaces] as fellow human beings" (Rai, Valdesolo, and Graham 2017), by making visible the residents' feelings, commonly denied by newspaper headlines and government generalisations. ...
Article
This study explores how barrio social movements in Bogotá and Mexico City fight gentrification by making everyday life visible in films. An analysis of two communally produced documentary videos examines how the portrayal of stories that detail people’s affective ties to places targets the pillars of neoliberalism – that is, the reduction of human relations to market exchanges and the prevalence of private property over collective rights. After some background on the urban areas at stake, I study how the films foreground processes of place-making by portraying everyday family and communal work routines and explain how these depictions not only humanise space, in opposition to the abstract understanding of space to which urban plans aspire, but also allow residents to claim the neighbourhoods as collective property. The analysis demonstrates that by making everydayness visible, grassroots organisations position themselves as place-makers, creating a local culture capable of countering the discourses through which neoliberalism justifies the necessity of urban renewal.
... I view this as potentially becoming a form of objectification and romanticization of marginalized people, which can contribute to their dehumanization. Dehumanization and the exotification of the "Other" can increase the risk of conflict, violence, war, and genocide (Schultz & Shuman, 2011;Rai, Valdesolo, & Graham, 2022). I am not suggesting the festivals lead to genocide, but I believe that organizers and policy-makers must inform themselves about the meaning and effect of the words they use. ...
Thesis
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Since the 1950s, a new wave of music festivals has emerged in North America in response to the systematic exclusion and cultural gatekeeping cultural organizations have historically conducted. This has created a more inclusive space for marginalized artists and communities in which political discourse and anti-discrimination movements have become the focus (Getz, 2010; Duffy & Mair, 2021; Quinn, 2005; Li, Moore & Smythe, 2018; Wilson, Arshed, Shaw & Pret, 2016; Bekenshtein, 2020; Fernandez, 2006). This study highlights some of Canada’s diversity-focused festivals, which are founded on the principles of multiculturalism and support the national narrative of a welcoming nation. However, these events sometimes reproduce existing societal conditions that position racially marginalized people as the “Other”. The study applies a digital ethnography (DE) methodology (Pink, 2012, 2013, Postill, 2008, 2010a, 2010b, 2011) to investigate the promotional activities festivals and marginalized music artists conduct as they negotiate existing power imbalances, cultural hegemony, and language hierarchies. Between July and November 2019, I carried out field visits to five Canadian festivals that focus on diversity and multiculturalism. I collected field notes, photos, videos, and audio recordings, and captured 1083 Facebook posts from the events and the artists who performed there. Through digital content analysis and ethnographic inquiry, the data revealed that racially marginalized francophone music artists express fluid and hybrid identities constructed by multilingualism, geographic mobility, and their musical influences. These identities are evident in the music styles artists express, the languages they use, and the symbolic meaning of their Facebook content. The findings show that festivals are largely apolitical and focused on the commodification of diversity and multiculturalism. This commodification can nationalize, fetishize, exotify, and culturally appropriate the identities of marginalized communities. As a result, festivals can reproduce difference rather than create the social cohesion they aspire to. Music artists use strategies like hashtag activism, code-switching, music remix, public speaking, and content curation to negotiate these social constraints. In doing so, they challenge the compartmentalization of the music industry and introduce positive representations of racially marginalized communities.
... Psychologists argue that those who hold beliefs supportive of violence are more likely to be violent (Bowes & McMurran, 2013). According to Rai et al. (2017), violence is inhibited by moral obligation and sympathy towards other human beings. Thus, those who commit harmful or violent acts without remorse lack such sympathy, a phenomenon called moral disengagement by Bandura (2016). ...
Article
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Many scholars argue that the image of Arabs in Hollywood has always been tainted by prejudice and stereotyping. However, little attention is paid to women's representation in general or the influence of 9/11 on that representation. This paper compares portrayals of Arab women in popular Hollywood films before and after 9/11. A purposive sample of 76 Arab female characters from 40 popular Hollywood films is used to conduct a content analysis, comparing portrayals in films released before and after 9/11. Popular Hollywood films are defined as films with at least 50,000 reviews that score seven or more on the International Movie Database (IMDB). The results show that Arab women's representation lacks diversity and Arab women remain unidentified in Hollywood films. Arab women's portrayal shifts from one of the magical or sexualized characters to one of the violent terrorists. Despite the overall increase in the amount of violence depicted after 9/11, there is a shift in favor of the portrayal of Arab women, with more depicted as good or pure after 9/11. Finally, the results show that the morality of Arab female characters improves, with more characters depicted as evaluating options and making their own decisions.
... That is, the general tendency to be warm, communal, kind, egalitarian, and agreeable has been assumed to apply to interactions with other humans in personality psychology, whereas evidence from research on human-animal relations suggests that it transcends species (Dhont et al., 2016). Studies examining potential disconnects between interpersonal dispositions and human as opposed to nonhuman interactions is an important area for future research (e.g., Costello & Hodson, 2010;Rai et al., 2017). These findings articulate a specific profile of individual differences characteristics representing a general disposition to be compassionate toward animals. ...
Article
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People vary in their compassion for animals, likely due in part to more variation in more basic personality and interpersonal behavior attributes. Previous research has generally suggested that more communal and agreeable people also tend to be more compassionate to animals. However, this research is limited regarding the range and depth of individual differences used to examine this issue. The goal of this preregistered study was to extend previous research by examining associations between compassion for animals and a wider range of variables than has been previously examined. In a representative sample of American adults (n = 992), we tested associations between compassion for animals and (a) Big Five personality trait domains, (b) Big Five trait aspects, (c) maladaptive Big Five trait domains, (d) interpersonal values, and (e) interpersonal problems. Results supported our hypothesis that compassion for animals is related to communion/agreeableness and openness to experience. Consistent with our hypotheses, the compassionate aspect of agreeableness drove correlations with that trait. Contrary to our hypotheses, maladaptive antagonism was not more strongly related to compassion for animals than normal-range agreeableness. The results provide a fuller portrait of the personological foundation of compassion for animals. Specifically, people who are more communal/agreeable and open tend to be more compassionate toward animals. This suggests that personality-related patterns of behavior among humans extend to human-animal interactions. Results also provide a basis for future work examining the mechanisms underlying human compassion for animals.
... « L'humanisation » à propos des aspects négatifs de soi ou de son groupe pourrait tout aussi bien être qualifiée de « déshumanisation positive » des autres groupes. Cependant, cette appellation résonne bizarrement car la déshumanisation est le plus souvent mise en lien avec des comportements négatifs (Rai et al., 2017 ;Rudman & Mescher, 2012) et un jugement négatif (Harris & Fiske, 2006 ;). ...
Thesis
L’objectif de cette thèse est de vérifier si la perception d’humanité d’une cible varie en fonction des valeurs culturelles qu’elle exprime. En France, les valeurs dominantes correspondent, d’après un ensemble d’études de psychologie interculturelle, à des valeurs individualistes. En s’appuyant sur ces données, plusieurs études ont été mises en œuvre pour comparer les attributions d’humanité à une cible qui exprime soit des valeurs individualistes, soit des valeurs collectivistes. D’après l’hypothèse ethnocentrique, l’expression de valeurs collectivistes devrait susciter moins d’attributions d’humanité que l’expression de valeurs individualistes. Pour vérifier cette hypothèse, plusieurs mesures d’attributions d’humanité ont été utilisées. Trois prétests ont notamment été réalisés en vue de valider une mesure francophone d’Unicité Humaine et de Nature Humaine via des traits de personnalité. Quatre études expérimentales ont ensuite été mises en place pour répondre à la problématique générale. Les données obtenues ne permettent pas de confirmer l’hypothèse ethnocentrique et montrent que l’expression de valeurs individualistes et collectivistes sont chacune associées à des aspects spécifiques de l’humain. Les résultats conduisent à une réflexion au sujet de la validité convergente des mesures d’attributions d’humanité et de leur capacité à s’émanciper des effets de positivité. Une discussion concernant le statut normatif des valeurs individualistes est également engagée.
... In concordance with Study 3, and contrary to infrahumanization theory, we found that helping intentions were higher for both ingroup and outgroup members when they expressed prosocial compared to antisocial emotions, regardless of the humanness of these items. Our results converge with recent empirical work showing that intergroup biases in trait and emotion attributions are better explained by social preferences than by subtle dehumanization 22,35 .Our results also offer empirical support to broader critiques of the social psychological dehumanization literature, particularly in suggesting that negative behaviours towards others do not necessarily arise when others are seen as less human, but when they are seen in ways that are specific to humans yet antisocial 20,21,[36][37][38][39][40][41][42] . ...
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We challenge the explanatory value of one of the most prominent psychological models of dehumanization—infrahumanization theory—which holds that outgroup members are subtly dehumanized by being denied human emotions. Of central importance to this theory is the claim that, to the extent that other people are ‘infrahumanized’, they are less likely to be helped. We examine this hypothesised relationship across four pre-registered and well powered studies. We do not find that attributing all uniquely human emotions to others is positively associated with helping intentions towards them. Instead, we find that attributing prosocial emotions is positively associated with helping intentions and attributing antisocial emotions is negatively associated with helping intentions, regardless of emotion humanness. In our data, what previously appeared to be an association between subtle dehumanization and reduced helping is better explained by the tendency to avoid helping others when we view them negatively.
... In unpredictable environments, however, the prospects of appropriating resources from others may compensate for the uncertainty around resource appropriation from the environment. In addition, carrying-capacity stress may lead people to perceive out-groups as comparatively less deserving and entitled [31,53], rendering it justified to contribute to out-group attack and exploitation [54]. Second, carryingcapacity stress may increase vigilance for outside threat, human enemies included [4,42,55,56]. ...
Article
Peaceful coexistence and trade among human groups can be fragile and intergroup relations frequently transition to violent exchange and conflict. Here we specify how exogenous changes in groups' environment and ensuing carrying-capacity stress can increase individual participation in intergroup conflict, and out-group aggression in particular. In two intergroup contest experiments, individuals could contribute private resources to out-group aggression (versus in-group defense). Environmental unpredictability, induced by making non-invested resources subject to risk of destruction (versus not), created psychological stress and increased participation in and coordination of out-group attacks. Archival analyses of interstate conflicts showed, likewise, that sovereign states engage in revisionist warfare more when their pre-conflict economic and climatic environment were more volatile and unpredictable. Given that participation in conflict is wasteful, environmental unpredictability not only made groups more often victorious but also less wealthy. Macro-level changes in the natural and economic environment can be a root cause of out-group aggression and turn benign intergroup relations violent. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Intergroup conflict across taxa’.
... An individual's perception of the justifiability of violence and their likelihood of accepting violence or engaging in violent behavior are closely linked (Akbag and Barakas, 2010;Duncan, 1976;Shelley and Toch, 1962). A body of research support that violence is motivated by instrumental gain or impulsiveness, and it could be restrained by moral inhibitions (Bandura, 1999;Cehajic et al., 2009;Kelman, 1973;Opotow, 1990;Rai et al., 2017;Waytz et al., 2010). Specifically, an individual's perceptions of violence have been empirically associated with the implementation of actual violence or their responses to it (Alvarez et al., 2015;Forbes et al., 2005;Simpson et al., 2018;El Abani and Pourmehdi, 2021). ...
Article
Violence is increasing in Asia. However, limited research exists on the prevalence and types of violence across Asian regions and countries; a comprehensive study on a continental-scale in Asia has been understudied. Guided by the World Health Organization’s definition of violence, this study used World Values Survey Wave 7 ( n = 35,435) to map the perceptions of the justifiability of three categories of violence (self-inflicted, interpersonal, collective) with five subtypes (suicide, intimate partner violence against wife, child abuse, violence toward other people, political violence) in six regions and 24 countries in Asia. Findings indicate that perceptions of the justifiability of violence are significantly different across regions in Asia. Perceptions of the justifiability of various types of violence differed across Asian countries. Considering the complexity and diversity of violence across Asian regions and countries, this study may be a cornerstone for violence research in Asia.
... Recent work, perhaps most notably byRai et al. (2017) andOver (2021), has challenged these longstanding assumptions about dehumanization's role in violence. However, these critiques may have 2 By "disease-relevant" we mean outgroups with qualities probabilistically associated with disease cues in ancestral environments. ...
Article
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The behavioral immune system (BIS) is an evolved psychological mechanism that motivates prophylactic avoidance of disease vectors by eliciting disgust. When felt toward social groups, disgust can dampen empathy and promote dehumanization. Therefore, we investigated whether the BIS facilitates the dehumanization of groups associated with disease by inspiring disgust toward them. An initial content analysis found that Nazi propaganda predominantly dehumanized Jews by portraying them as disease vectors or contaminants. This inspired three correlational studies supporting a Prophylactic Dehumanization Model in which the BIS predicted disgust toward disease-relevant outgroups, and this disgust in turn accounted for the dehumanization of these groups. In a final study, we found this process of prophylactic dehumanization had a downstream effect on increasing anti-immigrant attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, consistent with the evolutionary logic of a functionally flexible BIS, this effect only occurred when the threat of COVID-19 was salient. The implications of these results for the study of dehumanization and evolutionary theories of xenophobia are discussed. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s40806-021-00296-8.
... Similarly, Cassese (2021) linked dehumanization with perceptions of greater moral distance among political opponents. However, Rai et al (2017) have found that dehumanization may increase instrumental, but not moral violence. ...
Preprint
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Conservatives are known to display smaller moral circles, have less empathy, and make utilitarian decisions. The present study aimed to understand the relationships between political ideology and empathetic concern (n = 513), and between ideology and moral decision-making (n = 210) in an inter-group setting, using an Indian sample. We measured trait empathetic concern and empathetic concern for the ingroup (i.e., their own religion) and outgroup (i.e., Muslims) using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and measured moral decision-making for a non-denominational group and in- and out-group using modified moral dilemmas. We found that right-leaning individuals, in terms of greater adherence to cultural norms, displayed higher levels of trait empathetic concern, as well as that for in- and outgroups; they were also more willing to sacrifice the outgroup to save multiple ingroup members in moral dilemma tasks, and thus made utilitarian moral decisions when sacrificing outgroup lives were concerned. Additionally, those leaning left, in terms of lower adherence to hierarchical structures, showed higher levels of empathetic concern for the outgroup. Implications and future avenues are discussed.
... It remains shocking, however, when we stop putting a human into a human category, perceiving a target as possessing less (or even no) humanness, a phenomenon known as dehumanization (Haslam, 2006). Needless to say, dehumanization can cause profound consequences, ranging from reduced perspective-taking and helping behaviors (e.g., Čehajić et al., 2009;Viki et al., 2012), bullying (Obermann, 2011), aggression (Rai et al., 2017), torture (Viki et al., 2013), to even killing and genocide (Stanton, 2013; see also Haslam, 2019). Given its signi cance, a growing number of studies have examined the psychological antecedents of dehumanization, including emotion, motives, cognition, and interpersonal relationships (Haslam & Loughnan, 2014). ...
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Research on antecedents of dehumanization has exclusively focused on intra- and inter-personal factors. In the current research, we examined whether cultural tightness (i.e., strengths of social norms and punishments of deviant behaviors), a macro-cultural factor, could result in dehumanization in the United States. Six studies employing mixed methods were conducted. Using ecological data, we showed that tightness could predict dehumanization both cross-sectionally (i.e., across 50 states, Study 1) and longitudinally (i.e., 1800–2000 CE, Study 2). A quasi-experiment using employees from a tight corporate culture (i.e., finance) versus a loose one (i.e., high-tech) replicated the finding (Study 3). Controlled experiments using different manipulation methods for cultural tightness further demonstrated a direct causal relationship from tightness to dehumanization (Studies 4–6). In addition, such a relation was mediated by an avoidance motivation (Studies 5 and 6). Implications were discussed.
... Assigning human victims a subhuman or animal status (e.g., rats, pigs, vermin, parasites, and pests), for example, is a linguistic footprint of dehumanization (Bandura et al., 1996;Kteily et al., 2015;Waytz & Epley, 2012), regularly seen today with immigrants (Markowitz & Slovic, 2020) and undeniably pervasive in Nazi Germany during the genocide of Jewish individuals as well as in the United States during the containment of individuals of Japanese descent . Notwithstanding the weight of these atrocities, underestimating the complexity of other minds most frequently infiltrates perceptions of and violence towards others in more covert or indirect ways (Rai et al., 2017). Haslm and Loughnan (2014) assert that dehumanization can result in decreased prosocial attitudes towards an outgroup. ...
Article
The current manuscript assessed the impact of a community intervention—hosting a government-sanctioned homeless encampment—on perceptions of individuals experiencing homelessness. College students' perceptions of individuals experiencing homelessness were collected before and after a tent city resided on campus. Perceptions were assessed utilizing a measure of dehumanization that probed the presumed importance of physiological and psychological needs. Data about contact with individuals experiencing homelessness were also collected. Hosting a tent city did not improve community-wide perceptions of individuals experiencing homelessness. For a subset of participants who explicitly mentioned interactions with tent city members, awareness of the importance of physiological needs increased. Assessments of intergroup contact during hosting did not moderate changes in perceptions, though contact prior to hosting did have a modest impact. Specifically, students who had the fewest prior interactions were more likely to show improved perceptions of middle-level need (e.g., love and belonging) importance. There was no evidence to suggest any enhancements in perceptions of high-level needs (e.g., feeling independent and respected). Contact that organically occurs when a community hosts a tent city has limited potential to enhance markers of humanness. Implications for the contact hypothesis and recommendations for future hosting sites are discussed.
... Additionally, research has supported that the dehumanization of victims would increase instrumental violence (Rai, Valdesolo, and Graham 2017). If power exemplification can prompt people to dehumanize or humanize transgender people, it might also be able to reshape people's aggressive behavioral tendencies. ...
Article
Despite the enormous rise in the transgender media visibility in recent years, the news media in particular still predominantly exemplify powerful elite transgender people or exclusively quote their cisgender counterparts, leaving out the voices and lived experiences of transgender people who do not fall into the high-power categories. Such power exemplification has become part of the journalism practice when reporting issues regarding marginalized social groups. Little quantitative social scientific research has explored how such journalistic practice might have contributed to the acceptance of or the increased hostility and hate crimes against transgender people. Through integrating the theories of exemplification, attribution, and dehumanization, this study experimentally investigates how the power exemplification of members from marginalized social groups like the transgender community (i.e., High-Power vs. Low-Power Transgender Exemplar) in the news narrative interacts with the cisgender heterosexual audience’s sex to redirect people’s intergroup attitudes, responsibility attribution for transgender social issues, dehumanization, and aggression towards transgender people. The findings demonstrated that after exposure to the news content featuring a high-power transgender woman exemplar, cisgender heterosexual women respondents reported significantly higher levels of dehumanization in regard to transgender people’s human nature. After exposure to the news content with power exemplification (vs. the control condition) regardless of the levels of power depicted, male participants were significantly more likely to attribute transgender issues to external factors. These findings reveal 1) the significant psychological and social impacts of the journalism practice of power exemplification when reporting transgender issues, and 2) how heterosexual cisgender men and women audiences respond to power exemplification of transgender people in the news differently. These findings not only provide social scientific evidence to guide practitioners to navigate the intricate practice of exemplifying the power of transgender people in the news but also fill the gap in the lack of quantitative experimental audience research in transgender media studies.
... Some research has suggested that dehumanization increases propensities to torture outgroup transgressors (Viki, Osgood, & Phillips, 2013) or to act cruelly more generally (see Bandura, 1999). However, other research has indicated that reduced perceptions of others' mental states do not increase morally motivated forms of violence but rather increase violence that entails using others as means to an end (Rai, Valdesolo, & Graham, 2017). Therefore, while there are nuances in the causes and effects of dehumanizing others, and there is not always a clear link between dehumanization and harmdoing (see Over, 2021), prejudice and maltreatment are generally heightened for groups that fail to elicit typical patterns of social cognition (Harris & Fiske, 2006). ...
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Previous examinations of the scope of moral concern have focused on aggregate attributions of moral worth. However, because trade‐offs exist in valuing different kinds of entities, tabulating total amounts of moral expansiveness may conceal significant individual differences in the relative proportions of moral valuation ascribed to various entities. We hypothesized that some individuals (“tree‐huggers”) would ascribe greater moral worth to animals and ecosystems than to humans from marginalized or stigmatized groups, while others (“human‐lovers”) would ascribe greater moral worth to outgroup members than to the natural world. Additionally, because moral valuation is often treated as being zero‐sum, we hypothesized that there would be no difference in aggregate levels of moral concern between tree‐huggers and human‐lovers. Finally, because attributions of mental capacities substantially contribute to moral valuation, we predicted that tree‐huggers and human‐lovers would show different patterns of mind attribution for animals versus humans. Three studies (N = 985) yielded evidence in support of our hypotheses. First, over one‐third of participants valued nature over outgroups. Second, extending moral value to animals and nature was not indicative of more expansive moral concern overall; instead, tree‐huggers and human‐lovers were identical in their aggregate ascriptions of moral worth. Third, tree‐huggers had relatively amplified tendencies to attribute mental capacities to animals and relatively reduced tendencies to attribute mental capacities to outgroup members—thus having elevated rates of both anthropomorphism and dehumanization. These findings necessitate a reconceptualization of both the extension of moral worth and the attribution of minds.
... More broadly, the current research dovetails with recent work on the morality of harm in virtuous violence suggesting that, while people generally view harming others as immoral, people believe that committing violence can be the morally right thing to do depending on the social context (e.g., the use of force to defend one's family; Fiske & Rai, 2015;Rai et al., 2017). Viewing socially motivated judgments of altruism (biased benevolence) through the same lens as virtuous violence may be a productive avenue for research to further explore. ...
Article
Is altruism always morally good, or is the morality of altruism fundamentally shaped by the social opportunity costs that often accompany helping decisions? Across four studies, we reveal that in cases of realistic tradeoffs in social distance for gains in welfare where helping socially distant others necessitates not helping socially closer others with the same resources, helping is deemed as less morally acceptable. Making helping decisions at a cost to socially closer others also negatively affects judgments of relationship quality (Study 2) and in turn, decreases cooperative behavior with the helper (Study 3). Ruling out an alternative explanation of physical distance accounting for the effects in Studies 1 to 3, social distance continued to impact moral acceptability when physical distance across social targets was matched (Study 4). These findings reveal that attempts to decrease biases in helping may have previously unconsidered consequences for moral judgments, relationships, and cooperation.
... Dehumanisierung beschreibt die Wahrnehmung oder Behandlung von Menschen, so als ob sie kein vollwertiger Mensch wären (Haslam & Loughnan, 2014), und dies gilt häufig sowohl für Intergruppen-Kontexte als auch für zwischenmenschliche Kontexte (Haslam, 2006). Diese Tendenz, Fremdgruppen als animalisch anzusehen, kann mehrere negative Verhaltensfolgen haben, die von der Verhinderung prosozialer Verhaltensweisen (Cuddy et al., 2007) bis zur Rechtfertigung extremer Formen von Aggression und Gewalt (Bandura et al., 1975;Castano & Giner-Sorolla, 2006;Rai et al., 2017;Smith, 2011) reichen. ...
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Trotz kontinuierlicher Bemühungen, die Bildungsnachteile, denen Roma-Schüler*innen in ihrer Schullaufbahn begegnen, zu verringern, bleibt die Ausgrenzung dieser Gruppe in ganz Europa weitestgehend unverändert. In unserem Kapitel werden wir die Mechanismen der Stereotypisierung und Vorurteile untersuchen, die den Kern der schulischen Ausgrenzung von Rom*nja bilden, aber auch einige Empfehlungen dazu geben, wie diesen präventiv entgegengewirkt werden können. Der erste Abschnitt enthält eine Beschreibung der Herkunft der Gruppe und ihrer Schulbildung im europäischen und deutschen Bildungssystem. Der zweite Abschnitt beschreibt zwei theoretische Sichtweisen, die verwendet wurden, um die Ursachen für Stereotypisierung, Vorurteile und Diskriminierung gegenüber dieser Gruppe zu erklären. Der dritte Abschnitt überprüft empirische Belege für Stereotype und Vorurteile gegenüber Roma-Schüler*innen und ihren Familien. Im vierten Abschnitt werden Interventionen präsentiert, die darauf abzielen, Stereotype und Vorurteile gegenüber Rom*nja auf individueller und schulischer Ebene zu verringern, damit Rom*nja-Jugendliche ihre Potenziale ausschöpfen können.
... As we have commented above, violence applied by police to protesters seems to be primarily instrumentally motivated. In such cases dehumanization is needed to justify violence by reducing moral restraints so that it does no longer feel distressing to inflict pain on others (Rai et al., 2017). Therefore, we speculate that dehumanization enables police officers to perform their duty without guilt or remorse, and that experiencing themselves as unfeeling machines may help not to connect with these feelings as well. ...
Article
Police forces, being representative of the state, have the monopoly on violence in society, but also need to legitimize their use of force. So, what are the psychosocial underpinnings of police use of force and its legitimation, particularly, when this violence is directed against citizens who exercise their democratic right to protest? We explored this issue by studying legitimation of violence and feelings of hostility together with the processes of dehumanization, meta-dehumanization, and self-dehumanization among members of riot police squads who operated during the deterrence of the pro-independence referendum in Catalonia, Spain. We found that police officers dehumanized protesting citizens to a considerable extent. Animalistic dehumanization was especially relevant since it was associated with legitimation of violence, the hostility felt towards the protesters, and also with the degree of self-dehumanization of policemen as unfeeling machines. We also evidenced that, reflecting the interactive nature of the situation, animalistic dehumanization was associated with meta-dehumanization. We link our results to previous research on the legitimation of violence, and also on the facets of dehumanization. The discussion highlights the inextricable link between the perpetrators’ own and the others’ humanity, dehumanizing and self-dehumanizing effects of violence, and also broader socio-political implications of our findings. Keywords police violence, legitimation, dehumanization, meta-dehumanization, self-dehumanization
... It is important that social psychologists wrestle with this issue and encouraging that they are beginning to do so. Rai, Valdesolo, and Graham (2017), for example, have argued that dehumanization may enable violence where the perpetrator stands to benefit instrumentally but not when the victim is judged to have acted immorally. Whether or not this distinction between instrumental and moral violence represents a true boundary condition on the role of dehumanization in harm-doing, it will be important for social psychologists to engage with scholars from other disciplines to clarify where and when dehumanization is implicated in inhumanity. ...
Chapter
In this chapter I offer an overview and evaluation of dehumanization research within social psychology. The overview summarizes the history of that research tradition, the theoretical frameworks that have been elaborated, the wide range of definitions, conceptualizations and measures that have been developed, the many topic domains that have been explored, and what the research purports to tell us about the causes and consequences of dehumanization. It concludes with a discussion of four concerns raised by the current state of psychological research on dehumanization, and how they might be addressed within the emerging multidisciplinary field of dehumanization studies. The chapter pays special and repeated attention to the issue of breadth: the definitional, theoretical, methodological, and substantive diversity of existing work in the field of social psychology, the fact that this diversity is growing, and the difficulties this expansion may generate.
... The second chapter I thought was particularly revealing concerns the role of dehumanisation; as Nick Haslam notes, it is almost a truism that this occurs, and he documents it in detail; the role it plays in both initiating and sustaining genocidal violence but also how it can justify it. In the final section of the chapter he discusses an important paper (Rai et al., 2017), that shows that dehumanisation is complicated -and where there is felt to be a moral duty involved, humanisation rather than dehumanisation can be a powerful motivator. ...
Article
A service development initiative to increase research activity was implemented in a large clinical neuropsychology department. The number of research-active clinicians increased from 3 clinicians to 22. Reflections on facilitators and barriers to increasing research practice are presented.
... Advances in the literature on the conceptualization, operationalization, and prevalence of dehumanization highlight the continued consequences of dehumanization for how African Americans are treated (Goff et al., 2008(Goff et al., , 2014Kteily & Bruneau, 2017a). The tendency to dehumanize has been linked to implicit racial bias (Goff et al., 2014), intergroup aggression (Rai et al., 2017), racial shooter biases (Mekawi et al., 2016), and justification of excessive violence (Bruneau et al., 2018). Despite these advances, this research area has mainly emphasized dehumanization from the perpetrator's perspective-the vantage point of those doing the dehumanizing (Bastian et al., 2013;Bastian & Haslam, 2011). ...
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Though considerable empirical work has documented the ways in which African Americans are dehumanized by other racial groups, there is no research examining how perceiving dehumanization (i.e., metadehumanization) is associated with the mental health of African Americans. In this study, we examined the indirect effect of racial discrimination on depressive symptoms through metadehumanization and explored whether this indirect effect was contingent on racial identity (i.e., centrality, private regard). African American students completed measures in a university lab located in the Midwestern region of the United States ( N = 326; M age = 19.7, 72.4% women). We found that the degree to which racial discrimination was indirectly associated with depressive symptoms through metadehumanization was contingent on racial identity dimensions. Specifically, the indirect effect of racial discrimination on depressive symptoms through metadehumanization was only significant for individuals who were relatively higher on centrality and private regard. This research suggests that the role of metadehumanization is stronger among African Americans who strongly identify with and have positive views of their racial group. We discuss these results in the context of social cognitive theories.
... A remarkable take-away from our study is that certain types of harmful messages in war propaganda (references to past atrocities, victimization, revenge and dehumanization) increased ingroup empathy, while only one type (revenge speech) decreased outgroup empathy. Other research has found that similar messages increase negative intergroup attitudes -for instance, reminders of past atrocities activate group-defensive strategies (Kofta & Slawuta, 2013); references to exclusive ingroup victimization strengthen ingroup commitments (Cohrs, McNeill, & Vollhardt, 2015); and dehumanizing messages enable outgroup violence by conveying that, albeit immoral, attacking an outgroup is instrumentally necessary (Rai, Valdesolo, & Graham, 2017). Furthermore, given the known influence of revenge on group cooperation and punishment (e.g., McCullough, 2008;McCullough, Kurzban, & Tabak, 2013), it is likely that revenge messages are highly effective in strengthening group empathies (see also de Vos et al., 2018;Rodriguez-Carballeira & Javaloy, 2005) We therefore suggest, contrary to recent speech crime trials, that the effects of propaganda are not due to any single speech act, but rather exposure to messages over time that change a population's attitudes toward groups (see also Seliktar, 1980;Sears & Funk, 1999). ...
Article
What is the relationship between war propaganda and nationalism, and what are the effects of each on support for, or participation in, violent acts? This is an important question for international criminal law and ongoing speech crime trials, where prosecutors and judges continue to assert that there is a clear causal link between war propaganda, nationalism, and mass violence. Although most legal judgments hinge on the criminal intent of propagandists, the question of whether and to what extent propaganda and nationalism interact to cause support for violence or participation remains unanswered. Our goal here is to contribute to research on propaganda and nationalism by bridging international criminal law and the behavioral and brain sciences. We develop an experiment conducted with Serbian participants that examines the effects of propaganda as identified in the latest international speech crime trial as causing mass violence, and thereby test hypotheses of expert witness Anthony Oberschall’s theory of mass manipulation. Using principal components analysis and Bayesian regression, we examine the effects of propaganda exposure and prior levels of nationalism as well as other demographics on support for violence, ingroup empathy, and outgroup empathy. Results show that while exposure to war propaganda does not increase justifications of violence, specific types of war propaganda increase ingroup empathy and decrease outgroup empathy. Further, although nationalism by itself is not significant for justifying violence, the interaction of increased nationalism and exposure to violent media is significant for altering group empathies. The implications of these findings are discussed with respect to international criminal law and the cognitive science of nationalism.
... Dehumanising may lead to feelings of hatred and alienation towards the other. This process is characterised by the difficulty of parties recognising that they are members of a shared human community (Rai, Valdesolo and Graham 2017). Once social groups are stigmatised as evil or seen as morally inferior, the persecution becomes 'psychologically acceptable'. ...
Article
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Communication enables societies to cope with risks, shifting from a ‘culture of fear’ to a ‘culture of hope’. For media to act as agents for collective responsibility, this paper argues they must act locally towards dignified and non-humiliating risk communication.
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Dehumanisation is one of the most invoked factors in analyses of mass atrocities with many scholars focusing on its crucial role in enabling perpetrators to inflict violence on their victims. However, while its application is widespread, its relevance is often assumed a priori , with claims regarding its empirical relevance often asserted rather than argued for. Not only does its meaning, nature, and function remain amorphous, current scholarship also lacks a general conceptualisation of the basic features that bind the manifold appearances of dehumanisation together. It is this paucity of sustained reflection and particularly the lack of conceptual clarity that the present article seeks to address. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, it aims to deliver a more thoroughgoing appraisal of the nature of dehumanisation as a fundamental violation of plurality to conceptually consolidate and ground its meaning and bind together its diverse manifestations across cases of mass violence.
Article
Aside from loving God, the hallmark of a Christ-filled life is to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Mark 12:31). Thus, spiritual formation should be evidenced by an increased depth and breadth of love for others. Using qualitative (Study 1) and quantitative (Study 2) methods, we explored how sharing a meal and fellowshipping with a member of a marginalized group (a theological practice) shaped college students’ perceptions of their unhoused neighbors. Results demonstrated that students recognized human-like traits associated with an individual experiencing homelessness after a shared meal, but that the encounters did not significantly reduce the dehumanization of individuals experiencing homelessness as a whole (relative to a control no dinner condition). In addition to theoretical implications for psychologists interested in intergroup contact, our findings have implications for those trying to cultivate Christian virtues such as neighbor love through classroom or ministerial practices.
Article
Propaganda frequently leverages themes of dirtiness and disease to foster negative attitudes toward marginalized social groups. Although history suggests that this tactic is highly successful, empirical evidence is required to evaluate propaganda's potential efficacy. Inspired by previous evidence that children rapidly form attitudes about social groups, we conducted an exploratory investigation into whether 5- to 9-year-olds' (N = 48) judgments of novel foreign groups could be swayed by visually depicting one of these groups as disgusting in poster-sized illustrations. Across a wide battery of tasks, there was no clear indication that children readily internalize messages from propaganda in evaluating members of novel social groups. This finding held regardless of the type of disgustingness that was depicted in the propaganda, and generalized across the age range we investigated. Overall, our results are encouraging in a practical sense, suggesting that children are not easily swayed by negative misrepresentations of immigrants in propaganda.
Chapter
Trotz kontinuierlicher Bemühungen, die Bildungsnachteile, denen Roma-Schüler*innen in ihrer Schullaufbahn begegnen, zu verringern, bleibt die Ausgrenzung dieser Gruppe in ganz Europa weitestgehend unverändert. In unserem Kapitel werden wir die Mechanismen der Stereotypisierung und Vorurteile untersuchen, die den Kern der schulischen Ausgrenzung von Rom*nja bilden, aber auch einige Empfehlungen dazu geben, wie diesen präventiv entgegengewirkt werden kann. Der erste Abschnitt enthält eine Beschreibung der Herkunft der Gruppe und ihrer Schulbildung im europäischen und deutschen Bildungssystem. Der zweite Abschnitt beschreibt zwei theoretische Sichtweisen, die verwendet wurden, um die Ursachen für Stereotypisierung, Vorurteile und Diskriminierung gegenüber dieser Gruppe zu erklären. Der dritte Abschnitt überprüft empirische Belege für Stereotype und Vorurteile gegenüber Roma-Schüler*innen und ihren Familien. Im vierten Abschnitt werden Interventionen präsentiert, die darauf abzielen, Stereotype und Vorurteile gegenüber Rom*nja auf individueller und schulischer Ebene zu verringern, damit Rom*nja-Jugendliche ihre Potenziale ausschöpfen können.
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Online social-media platforms are a vital arena in which socio-political perspectives are put forth, debated, and spread. Prior work suggests that certain moral-emotional language drives online contagion, but theoretical and empirical findings remain debated, inhibiting constructive interventions. We substantially advance this ongoing debate using a diverse range of topics and both mainstream and extremist social media platforms. We find two countervailing dynamics predict the rise and fall of posting engagement online. First, we confirm that content infused with a greater number of moral words is associated with increased engagement; still, contrasting with prior work, we find no evidence that it is driven specifically by moral-emotional words as opposed to the more general and larger lexicon of moral language. Second, we identify a striking reversal in the relationship between moral language and engagement, a phenomenon we call “moral penalty.” We find that as the ratio of moral to non-moral words surpasses a threshold, the process of engagement around a post reverses with marked decreases in engagement and online diffusion. These findings help clarify links between morality and online engagement and contagion: infusing messages with moral language increases their spread to a point after which embedding posts in morality may backfire.
Article
Understanding Theory of Mind should begin with an analysis of the problems it solves. The traditional answer is that Theory of Mind is used for predicting others’ thoughts and actions. However, the same Theory of Mind is also used for planning to change others’ thoughts and actions. Planning requires that Theory of Mind consists of abstract structured causal representations and supports efficient search and selection from innumerable possible actions. Theory of Mind contrasts with less cognitively demanding alternatives: statistical predictive models of other people’s actions, or model-free reinforcement of actions by their effects on other people. Theory of Mind is likely used to plan novel interventions and predict their effects, for example, in pedagogy, emotion regulation, and impression management.
Article
Across four experiments with U.S.-based online participants (N = 1,495 adults), I found that paying people to engage in moralistic punishment reduces their willingness to do so. In an economic game with real stakes, providing a monetary bonus for engaging in third-party punishment of unfair offers nearly cut participants' willingness to do so in half. In judgments of hypothetical transgressions, participants viewed punishers who accepted payment as having worse character and rated the punishers' punitive actions as less morally acceptable. Willingness to engage in punishment was restored if participants were offered large enough payments or were told that punishment accompanied by payment still signals moral virtue. Data were consistent with a signal-corruption mechanism whereby payment interferes with the prosocial signal that moralistic punishment provides about a punisher's motives. These findings have implications for the cultural evolution of punishment and suggest that understanding perpetrators' sociomoral incentives is essential to implementing conflict-reduction policies.
Article
Every day, people face choices which could produce negative outcomes for others, and understanding these decisions is a major aim of social psychology. Here, we show that episodic simulation – a key psychological process implicated in other types of social and moral decision-making – can play a surprising role. Across six experiments, we find that imagining performing actions which adversely affect others makes people report a higher likelihood of performing those actions in the future. This effect happens, in part, because when people construe the actions as morally justified (as they often do spontaneously), imagining doing it makes them feel good. These findings stand in contrast to traditional accounts of harm aversion in moral psychology, and instead contribute to a growing body of evidence that people often cast harming others in a positive light.
Article
Despite our many differences, one superordinate category we all belong to is ‘humans’. To strip away or overlook others’ humanity, then, is to mark them as ‘other’ and, typically, ‘less than’. We review growing evidence revealing how and why we subtly disregard the humanity of those around us. We then highlight new research suggesting that we continue to blatantly dehumanize certain groups, overtly likening them to animals, with important implications for intergroup hostility. We discuss advances in understanding the experience of being dehumanized and novel interventions to mitigate dehumanization, address the conceptual boundaries of dehumanization, and consider recent accounts challenging the importance of dehumanization and its role in intergroup violence. Finally, we present an agenda of outstanding questions to propel dehumanization research forward.
Article
There is wide-ranging consensus that harm or perceptions of harm play a significant role in judgments of moral wrongdoing. On one prominent view, the pattern that makes up the “essence” (Gray, Waytz, & Young, 2012) of acts of moral wrongdoing is “harm caused by an agent” (Schein, Goranson, & Gray, 2015, p. 983). According to Gray, Schein, and colleagues, events matching this pattern—a thinking/intentional agent inflicting some manner of harm (i.e., emotional/physical pain) upon a suffering patient—will be perceived as immoral. With this proposal in mind, we argue two basic points: (1) the current specification of the dyadic template would need to be further refined or “fortified” to withstand some obvious counter-examples; (2) this “fortified” formulation is still unfit to address the underlying concern: for any general pattern that is supposed to link perceptions of harm and wrongdoing, there are a number of cases (the “wrongless harms” of the title) that match the pattern quite well but are not viewed as immoral. We show this in four studies and one supplementary study. In our original study, we find, across six vignettes, that people may judge a behavior to be intended, self-serving, as well as foreseeably harmful and yet not judge it immoral. In our subsequent studies, we replicate these results with further checks and controls. With these findings in mind, we argue that moral cognition is far too complex and capricious to be reduced to a template.
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A puzzling feature of paradigmatic cases of dehumanization is that the perpetrators often attribute uniquely human traits to their victims. This has become known as the "paradox of dehumanization." We address the paradox by arguing that the perpetrators think of their victims as human in one sense, while denying that they are human in another sense. We do so by providing evidence that people harbor a dual character concept of humanity. Research has found that dual character concepts have two independent sets of criteria for their application, one of which is descriptive and one of which is normative. Across four experiments, we found evidence that people deploy a descriptive criterion according to which being human is a matter of being a Homo sapiens; as well as a normative criterion according to which being human is a matter of possessing a deep-seated commitment to do the morally right thing. Importantly, we found that people are willing to affirm that someone is human in the descriptive sense, while denying that they are human in the normative sense, and vice versa. In addition to providing a solution to the paradox of dehumanization, these findings suggest that perceptions of moral character have a central role to play in driving dehumanization.
Article
People perceive cute expressions about situations or events positively or negatively. However, the conditions for how cute expression messaging would be received are less clear. In three studies, we investigated the influences of natural disaster cute expression messaging on audiences to determine the feelings the messaging engendered and perceptions of the content creator’s humanity. Study 1 examined cute expression messaging effects of a natural flood disaster. Studies 2 and 3 examined cute expression messaging of the Coronavirus Disease 2019. Study 1 showed that audiences perceived someone using cute expressions to describe a natural disaster as having a lack of humanity. Studies 2 and 3 indicated that cute expressions about the pandemic caused audiences to feel disgusted, leading to a dehumanising perception towards the content creator. Moreover, Study 3 showed that dehumanising the author could further contribute to aggression. From these findings, we conclude that cute expression messaging to describe disasters could be aversive, disrupting perceptions of a shared sense of humanity, and risking aggression against the content creators.
Article
This paper draws on critical race theory and research on attachment, social rank and dehumanization to theorize the implications of addressing anti-Blackness in psychotherapy with both Black and non-Black clients in the context of White Supremacy. Drawing on and critiquing a recent review of attachment theory and race, the author draws on historical and empirical research outlining the contours of a racial capitalist world. Recontextualizing attachment theory through this critical race theory lens, it will be argued psychotherapy must address anti-Blackness with both Black and non-Black clients, redefining therapeutic action not only as the provision of repair of interpersonal ruptures, but also as the capacity to mentalize about socio-historical ruptures, allowing space to clarify and pursue one’s values despite an anti-Black, capitalist and White Supremacist world. This paper will provide case examples illustrating these principles with Black and non-Black clients and conclude with their clinical and political implications.
Article
Violence against animals, derived from human domination over them, is limited by the moral judgment of perpetrators and by public opinion. The current study investigated whether the moral foundations of Care and Authority and the perception of animal mind are associated with instrumental violence against animals, as well as the function of perception of animal mind in the context of this phenomenon. To this end, 504 participants from Poland completed paper-based questionnaires that measured acceptance and participation in instrumental violence against animals, moral foundations, and perception of the experience dimension of animal mind. The results of structural equation modeling, performed using four smaller sub-models, suggest that Care and Authority are predictors of instrumental violence against animals, with Care being negatively predictive and Authority being positively predictive (either as the acceptance of or participation in such violence). Perception of the experience dimension of animal mind is negatively associated with instrumental violence and plays an indirect role in the relationship between morality and violence as a mutual mediator of Care and Authority. These findings suggest that perception of animal mind is a mechanism that is activated during the moral judgment of intention and behavior by changing the moral status of animals. Moreover, Care and Authority were significant as direct predictors of instrumental violence. Thus, the availability of these moral foundations in society is important for animal welfare during farm-animal husbandry, pet breeding, transport, training, and treatment. These findings broaden our knowledge about the intuitive, rather than only the deliberative, paths responsible for violence against animals.
Article
Purpose Stigma reduction is an important public health challenge because of the large morbidity and mortality associated with some forms of substance use. Extreme stigma can lead to dehumanisation of target groups, who are ascribed with lesser humanity. The authors examined whether there was blatant and subtle dehumanisation of people who use heroin, and if these were associated with levels of support for non-discriminatory drug policy. Design/methodology/approach A cross-sectional online study using a UK convenience sample ( n = 307 [75.2% female, mean age 28.6 ± 12.2 years]) was conducted. Participants completed assessments of blatant (Ascent of Humans [AoH] scale) and subtle (an emotion attribution task) dehumanisation and a bespoke measure assessing support for non-discriminatory drug policies. Other measures controlled for stigma towards people who use drugs (PWUD) and moral disgust. Findings There was greater blatant dehumanisation of people who used heroin compared to the general population and other potentially stigmatised reference groups, including people who use cannabis. The authors also found evidence of subtle dehumanisation, and people who used heroin were rated as being less likely to feel uniquely human emotions, less likely to feel positive emotions and more likely to feel negative emotions. Blatant dehumanisation was associated with significantly lower probability of support for non-discriminatory drug policy. Social implications Dehumanisation may present significant challenges for stigma reduction initiatives and in fostering public support for drug policy and treatment. Denial of the humanity of this group could be used to justify discriminatory policies or relative deprioritisation of support services in funding decisions. Activities that seek to “rehumanise” PWUD, including social inclusion, and encouraging compassionate media representations that portray the lived experiences of substance use may be useful areas of future work. Originality/value This is the first study to investigate blatant and subtle dehumanisation of people who use heroin, and how this relates to public support for drug policy.
Article
Psychological models can only help improve intergroup relations if they accurately characterise the mechanisms underlying social biases. The claim that outgroups suffer dehumanization is near ubiquitous in the social sciences. We challenge the most prominent psychological model of dehumanization - infrahumanization theory - which holds outgroup members are subtly dehumanized by being denied human emotions. We examine the theory across seven intergroup contexts in thirteen pre-registered and highly powered experiments (N = 1690). We find outgroup members are not denied uniquely human emotions relative to ingroup members. Rather, they are ascribed prosocial emotions to a lesser extent but antisocial emotions to a greater extent. Apparent evidence for infrahumanization is better explained by ingroup preference, outgroup derogation and stereotyping. Infrahumanization theory may obscure more than it reveals about intergroup bias.
Article
Across 10 experiments (N = 1584), we investigated biases in assumptions about pain sensitivity as an explanation for pain treatment disparities across socioeconomic status (SES). We find that lower-SES individuals are believed to feel less pain than higher-SES individuals (Studies 1a-1c), and this effect persists across target demographics including race (i.e., White individuals, Black individuals) and gender (i.e., men, women; Studies 2–3). Next, we examined two potential mechanisms underlying the effect of SES on pain sensitivity: dehumanization and beliefs about life hardship (Studies 4–5). We observed supporting evidence for the differential life hardship account of pain sensitivity biases across SES. Finally, we investigated the downstream consequences of biased pain perception of pain sensitivity for medical care and treatment recommendations, finding that both lay participants (Studies 6–7) and medical providers (Study 8) believe that low-SES individuals are less sensitive to pain and therefore require less intensive pain management. This systematic bias in judgments of pain sensitivity across SES has implications for psychological theory and equitable pain treatment.
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Research on third-party moral judgments highlights two mechanisms as central to moral judgments of accidental harms: the inference of intent and the perception of harm. However, little is known about how these mechanisms are recruited when people evaluate themselves for harm that they have accidentally caused. Here we explore how a person's perspective — as either actor or observer — influences their moral judgments of accidental harm. We use fMRI to investigate how brain regions involved in the inference of intent and the perception of harm differentially respond when participants either cause (first-person) or observe (third-person) accidental harm. First, we find that people judge their own accidental harms more harshly than they judge others' accidents, and hold themselves more responsible for the unintended harmful outcomes of their choices. Second, we find that regions responding to the first-hand experience of pain are also more sensitive to first-person harms relative to third-person harms, and brain-behavior relationships in a subset of these regions suggest that the tendency to judge oneself more harshly may be supported by a greater sensitivity to the victim's experience of harm. Third, though we find that first-person harms recruit regions for mental state inference to a lesser extent than third-person harms, this difference does not appear to account for the behavioral differences in moral judgment between first-person and third-person harms. The results of this experiment suggest that accidental harms are an important context for broadening our understanding of the relationship between agency, empathy, and moral judgments about the self.
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Humans use punishment to influence each other's behavior. Many current theories presume that this operates as a simple form of incentive. In contrast, we show that people infer the communicative intent behind punishment, which can sometimes diverge sharply from its immediate incentive value. In other words, people respond to punishment not as a reward to be maximized, but as a communicative signal to be interpreted. Specifically, we show that people expect harmless, yet communicative, punishments to be as effective as harmful punishments (Experiment 1). Under some situations, people display a systematic preference for harmless punishments over more canonical, harmful punishments (Experiment 2). People readily seek out and infer the communicative message inherent in a punishment (Experiment 3). And people expect that learning from punishment depends on the ease with which its communicative intent can be inferred (Experiment 4). Taken together, these findings demonstrate that people expect punishment to be constructed and interpreted as a communicative act.
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In previous writings, I proposed that we dehumanize others by attributing the essence of a less-than-human creature to them, in order to disable inhibitions against harming them. However, this account is inconsistent with the fact that dehumanizers implicitly, and often explicitly, acknowledge the human status of their victims. I propose that when we dehumanize others, we regard them as simultaneously human and subhuman. Drawing on the work of Ernst Jentsch (psychology), Mary Douglas (anthropology), and Noël Carroll (philosophy), I argue that the notion of dehumanized people as metaphysically transgressive provides important insights into the distinctive phenomenology of dehumanization.
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It is clear that harmful agents are targets of severe condemnation, but it is much less clear how perceivers conceptualize the agency of harmful agents. The current studies tested two competing predictions made by moral typecasting theory and the dehumanization literature. Across six studies, harmful agents were perceived to possess less agency than neutral (non-offending) and benevolent agents, consistent with a dehumanization perspective but inconsistent with the assumptions of moral typecasting theory. This was observed for human targets (Studies 1-2b, and 4-5) and corporations (Study 3), and across various gradations of harmfulness (Studies 3-4). Importantly, denial of agency to harmful agents occurred even when controlling for perceptions of the agent’s likeability (Studies 2a and 2b) and while using two different operationalizations of agency (Study 2a). Study 5 showed that harmful agents are denied agency primarily through an inferential process, and less through motivations to see the agent punished. Across all six studies, harmful agents were deemed less worthy of moral standing as a consequence of their harmful conduct and this reduction in moral standing was mediated through reductions in agency. Our findings clarify a current tension in the moral cognition literature, which have direct implications for the moral typecasting framework.
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Do moral disagreements regarding specific issues (e.g., patriotism, chastity) reflect deep cognitive differences (i.e., distinct cognitive mechanisms) between liberals and conservatives? Dyadic morality suggests that the answer is "no." Despite moral diversity, we reveal that moral cognition-in both liberals and conservatives-is rooted in a harm-based template. A dyadic template suggests that harm should be central within moral cognition, an idea tested-and confirmed-through six specific hypotheses. Studies suggest that moral judgment occurs via dyadic comparison, in which counter-normative acts are compared with a prototype of harm. Dyadic comparison explains why harm is the most accessible and important of moral content, why harm organizes-and overlaps with-diverse moral content, and why harm best translates across moral content. Dyadic morality suggests that various moral content (e.g., loyalty, purity) are varieties of perceived harm and that past research has substantially exaggerated moral differences between liberals and conservatives. © 2015 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
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Dehumanization is a central concept in the study of intergroup relations. Yet while theoretical and methodological advances in subtle, ‘everyday’ dehumanization have progressed rapidly, blatant dehumanization remains understudied. The present research attempts to re-focus theoretical and empirical attention on blatant dehumanization, examining when and why it provides explanatory power beyond subtle dehumanization. To accomplish this, we introduce and validate a blatant measure of dehumanization based on the popular depiction of evolutionary progress in the ‘Ascent of Man.’ We compare blatant dehumanization to established conceptualizations of subtle and implicit dehumanization, including infrahumanization, perceptions of human nature (HN) and human uniqueness (UH), and implicit associations between ingroup/outgroup and human/animal concepts. Across seven studies conducted in three countries, we demonstrate that blatant dehumanization is: (a) more strongly associated with individual differences in support for hierarchy than subtle/implicit dehumanization; (b) uniquely predictive of numerous consequential attitudes and behaviors towards multiple outgroup targets; (c) predictive above prejudice; and (d) reliable over time. Finally, we show that blatant — but not subtle—dehumanization spikes immediately after incidents of real intergroup violence, and strongly predicts support for aggressive actions like torture and retaliatory violence (after the Boston Marathon bombings, and Woolwich attacks in England). This research extends theory on the role of dehumanization in intergroup relations and intergroup conflict, and provides an intuitive, validated empirical tool to reliably measure blatant dehumanization.
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The criminality of crime is defined by law, and therefore falls within the jurisdiction of a completely different theory. This chapter discusses the struggle between law and self-help, the deterrence of crime, the processing of self-help by legal officials, and the problem of predicting and explaining self-help. The approach taken in the chapter departs radically from traditional criminology. Indeed, the approach taken is not criminological at all, because it ignores the characteristics of crime as such. Instead, it draws attention to a dimension of many crimes usually viewed as a totally different—even opposite— kind of human behavior, namely, social control. Crime often expresses a grievance. This implies that many crimes belong to the same family as gossip, ridicule, vengeance, punishment, and law. It also implies that to a significant degree one can predict and explain crime with a sociological theory of social control, specifically a theory of self-help. Beyond this, it might be worthwhile to contemplate what else crime has in common with noncriminal conduct.
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Whenever psychologists, neuroscientists, or philosophers draw conclusions about moral judgments in general from a small selected sample, they assume that moral judgments are unified by some common and peculiar feature that enables generalizations and makes morality worthy of study as a unified field. We assess this assumption by considering the six main candidates for a unifying feature: content, phenomenology, force, form, function, and brain mechanisms. We conclude that moral judgment is not unified on any of these levels and that moral science should adopt a more fine-grained taxonomic approach that studies carefully defined groups of moral judgments.
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This research examined the effects of reminders of ingroup responsibility for past wrongdoings on perception of ingroup responsibility and victim dehumanization as predictors of empathy. Two experiments set in different intergroup contexts found that reminders of ingroup responsibility generated empathy through perception of ingroup responsibility and deflected empathy through subtle victim dehumanization. In Experiment 1, set in the context of indigenous—non-indigenous relations in Chile (N = 124), it was found that reminders of ingroup (vs. individual) responsibility generated empathy by increasing a perception of ingroup responsibility and deflected it through decreased attribution of secondary emotions to the victim group. Experiment 2 replicated the effects in a different context, the recent 1992—1995 war in Bosnia (N = 158). Reminders of ingroup responsibility (vs. no reminders) generated empathy by increasing a perception of ingroup responsibility and deflected it through decreased attribution of secondary emotions to the victim group. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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People conceive of wrathful gods, fickle computers, and selfish genes, attributing human characteristics to a variety of supernatural, technological, and biological agents. This tendency to anthropomorphize nonhuman agents figures prominently in domains ranging from religion to marketing to computer science. Perceiving an agent to be humanlike has important implications for whether the agent is capable of social influence, accountable for its actions, and worthy of moral care and consideration. Three primary factors—elicited agent knowledge, sociality motivation, and effectance motivation—appear to account for a significant amount of variability in anthropomorphism. Identifying these factors that lead people to see nonhuman agents as humanlike also sheds light on the inverse process of dehumanization, whereby people treat human agents as animals or objects. Understanding anthropomorphism can contribute to a more expansive view of social cognition that applies social psychological theory to a wide variety of both human and nonhuman agents.
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When innocents are intentionally harmed, people are motivated to see that offenders get their "just deserts". The severity of the punishment they seek is driven by the perceived magnitude of the harm and moral outrage. The present research extended this model of retributive justice by incorporating the role of offender dehumanization. In three experiments relying on survey methodology in Australia and the United States, participants read about different crimes that varied by type (child molestation, violent, or white collar - Studies 1 and 2) or severity (Study 3). The findings demonstrated that both moral outrage and dehumanization predicted punishment independently of the effects of crime type or crime severity. Both moral outrage and dehumanization mediated the relationship between perceived harm and severity of punishment. These findings highlight the role of offender dehumanization in punishment decisions and extend our understanding of processes implicated in retributive justice.
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The desire for justice can escalate or facilitate resolution of intergroup conflicts. Two studies investigated retributive and restorative notions of justice as the mediating factor of the effect of perceived outgroup sentience-an aspect of (mechanistic) dehumanization referring to the emotional depth attributed to others-on intergroup conflict resolution. Study 1 showed that for Palestinians, who see themselves as victims, perceived sentience of Israelis decreased retributive but increased restorative notions of justice, which, ultimately, increased support for conflict resolution by negotiation rather than political violence. Study 2 partially replicated Study 1's findings with Jewish Israelis. The role of perceived sentience and its relationship to retributive and restorative notions of justice in protracted and nonprotracted conflicts and their resolution is discussed.
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This research examined the role of mechanisms of moral disengagement in the exercise of moral agency. Regulatory self-sanctions can be selectively disengaged from detrimental conduct by converting harmful acts to moral ones through linkage to worthy purposes, obscuring personal causal agency by diffusion and displacement of responsibility, misrepresenting or disregarding the injurious effects inflicted on others, and vilifying the recipients of maltreatment by blaming and dehumanizing them. The study examined the structure and impact of moral disengagement on detrimental conduct and the psychological processes through which it exerts its effects. Path analyses reveal that moral disengagement fosters detrimental conduct by reducing prosocialness and anticipatory self-censure and by promoting cognitive and affective reactions conducive to aggression. The structure of the paths of influence is very similar for interpersonal aggression and delinquent conduct. Although the various mechanisms of moral disengagement operate in concert, moral reconstruals of harmful conduct by linking it to worthy purposes and vilification of victims seem to contribute most heavily to engagement in detrimental activities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Being socially connected has considerable benefits for oneself, but may have negative consequences for evaluations of others. In particular, being socially connected to close others satisfies the need for social connection, and creates disconnection from more distant others. We therefore predicted that feeling socially connected would increase the tendency to dehumanize more socially distant others. Four experiments support this prediction. Those led to feel socially connected were less likely to attribute humanlike mental states to members of various social groups (Experiments 1 and 2), particularly distant others compared to close others (Experiment 3), and were also more likely to recommend harsh treatment for dehumanized others (i.e., terrorist detainees, Experiment 4). Discussion addresses the mechanisms by which social connection enables dehumanization, and the varied behavioral implications that result.Highlights► Experiences of social connection can enable dehumanization. ► Social connection particularly enables dehumanization toward distant others. ► Social connection’s effect on dehumanization can increase willingness to torture.
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This research examines inferences about the emotional states of ingroup and outgroup victims after a natural disaster, and whether these inferences predict intergroup helping. Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck the southern United States, White and non-White participants were asked to infer the emotional states of an individualized Black or White victim, and were asked to report their intentions to help such victims. Overall, participants believed that an outgroup victim experienced fewer secondary, �uniquely human� emotions (e.g. anguish, mourning, remorse) than an ingroup victim. The extent to which participants did infer secondary emotions about outgroup victims, however, predicted their helping intentions; in other words, those participants who did not dehumanize outgroup victims were the individuals most likely to report intentions to volunteer for hurricane relief efforts. This investigation extends prior research by: (1) demonstrating infraglobalhumanization of individualized outgroup members (as opposed to aggregated outgroups); (2) examining infrahumanization via inferred emotional states (as opposed to attributions of emotions as stereotypic traits); and (3) identifying a relationship between infra-humanization of outgroup members and reduced intergroup helping.
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Although prejudice researchers have mainly focused their attention on changing attitudes toward outgroups, other outcome variables may also be important. In post-confl ict reconciliation, intergroup forgiveness may play a crucial role in helping groups in confl ict put the atrocities of the past behind them (Cairns, Tam, Hewstone, & Niens, 2005). Two studies showed that both the specifi c intergroup emotion of anger and infrahumanization (the attribution of more human emotions to the ingroup than to the outgroup) predicted decreased intergroup forgiveness in Northern Ireland. Results further revealed intergroup contact as a potential means of reducing anger toward the outgroup and improving attitudes toward them. This research integrated prior interpersonal theory with intergroup literature to examine the concept of intergroup forgiveness and its predictors. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for reconciliation in confl ict societies.
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Mind perception entails ascribing mental capacities to other entities, whereas moral judgment entails labeling entities as good or bad or actions as right or wrong. We suggest that mind perception is the essence of moral judgment. In particular, we suggest that moral judgment is rooted in a cognitive template of two perceived minds-a moral dyad of an intentional agent and a suffering moral patient. Diverse lines of research support dyadic morality. First, perceptions of mind are linked to moral judgments: dimensions of mind perception (agency and experience) map onto moral types (agents and patients), and deficits of mind perception correspond to difficulties with moral judgment. Second, not only are moral judgments sensitive to perceived agency and experience, but all moral transgressions are fundamentally understood as agency plus experienced suffering-that is, interpersonal harm-even ostensibly harmless acts such as purity violations. Third, dyadic morality uniquely accounts for the phenomena of dyadic completion (seeing agents in response to patients, and vice versa), and moral typecasting (characterizing others as either moral agents or moral patients). Discussion also explores how mind perception can unify morality across explanatory levels, how a dyadic template of morality may be developmentally acquired, and future directions.
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Research on human aggression has progressed to a point at which a unifying framework is needed. Major domain-limited theories of aggression include cognitive neoassociation, social learning, social interaction, script, and excitation transfer theories. Using the general aggression model (GAM), this review posits cognition, affect, and arousal to mediate the effects of situational and personological variables on aggression. The review also organizes recent theories of the development and persistence of aggressive personality. Personality is conceptualized as a set of stable knowledge structures that individuals use to interpret events in their social world and to guide their behavior. In addition to organizing what is already known about human aggression, this review, using the GAM framework, also serves the heuristic function of suggesting what research is needed to fill in theoretical gaps and can be used to create and test interventions for reducing aggression.
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According to the psychological essentialism perspective, people tend to explain differences between groups by attributing them different essences. Given a pervasive ethnocentrism, this tendency implies that the human essence will be restricted to the ingroup whereas outgroups will receive a lesser degree of humanity. Therefore, it is argued that people attribute more uniquely human characteristics to the ingroup than to the outgroup. The present article focuses on secondary emotions that constitute such characteristics. Study 1 showed that members of high- and low-status groups attribute more positive secondary emotions to the ingroup than to the outgroup. Study 2 verified that the differential attribution extended also to negative secondary emotions. No exemplars of emotions were provided in Study 3. Instead, participants had to estimate the means of two distributions of numbers that supposedly represented characteristics of the ingroup and of the outgroup. The results of this third experiment illustrated the reluctance to attribute secondary emotions to the outgroup. The findings are discussed from the perspective of psychological essentialism. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Both laboratory and field data suggest that people punish noncooperators even in one-shot interactions. Although such ‘‘altruistic punishment’’ may explain the high levels of cooperation in human societies, it creates an evolutionary puzzle: existing models suggest that altruistic cooperation among nonrelatives is evolutionarily stable only in small groups. Thus, applying such models to the evolution of altruistic punishment leads to the prediction that people will not incur costs to punish others to provide benefits to large groups of nonrelatives. However, here we show that an important asymmetry between altruistic cooperation and altruistic punishment allows altruistic punishment to evolve in populations engaged in one-time, anonymous interactions. This process allows both altruistic punishment and altruistic cooperation to be maintained even when groups are large and other parameter values approximate conditions that characterize cultural evolution in the small-scale societies in which humans lived for most of our prehistory. PNAS vol. 100, pgs. 3531-3535
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Although dehumanizing women and male sexual aggression are theoretically aligned, the present research provides the first direct support for this assumption, using the Implicit Association Test to assess two forms of female dehumanization: animalization and objectification. In Study 1, men who automatically associated women more than men with primitive constructs (e.g., animals, instinct, nature) were more willing to rape and sexually harass women, and to report negative attitudes toward female rape victims. In Study 2, men who automatically associated women with animals (e.g., animals, paw, snout) more than with humans scored higher on a rape-behavioral analogue, as well as rape proclivity. Automatically objectifying women by associating them with objects, tools, and things was also positively correlated with men's rape proclivity. In concert, the research demonstrates that men who implicitly dehumanize women (as either animals or objects) are also likely to sexually victimize them.
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Genuine moral disagreement exists and is widespread. To understand such disagreement, we must examine the basic kinds of social relationships people construct across cultures and the distinct moral obligations and prohibitions these relationships entail. We extend relational models theory (Fiske, 1991) to identify 4 fundamental and distinct moral motives. Unity is the motive to care for and support the integrity of in-groups by avoiding or eliminating threats of contamination and providing aid and protection based on need or empathic compassion. Hierarchy is the motive to respect rank in social groups where superiors are entitled to deference and respect but must also lead, guide, direct, and protect subordinates. Equality is the motive for balanced, in-kind reciprocity, equal treatment, equal say, and equal opportunity. Proportionality is the motive for rewards and punishments to be proportionate to merit, benefits to be calibrated to contributions, and judgments to be based on a utilitarian calculus of costs and benefits. The 4 moral motives are universal, but cultures, ideologies, and individuals differ in where they activate these motives and how they implement them. Unlike existing theories (Haidt, 2007; Hauser, 2006; Turiel, 1983), relationship regulation theory predicts that any action, including violence, unequal treatment, and "impure" acts, may be perceived as morally correct depending on the moral motive employed and how the relevant social relationship is construed. This approach facilitates clearer understanding of moral perspectives we disagree with and provides a template for how to influence moral motives and practices in the world.
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It is often taken more or less for granted that perpetrators of mass killings and other acts of violent atrocity dehumanise their victims in order to justify killing them. Drawing on the past decade of developments in psychological theories of dehumanisation, and on representations and explanations of killing provided by Islamic State, this paper argues for a more complex understanding of the role of notions about humanity and inhumanity in the legitimation of violence.
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Albert Memmi's classic work stands as one of the most powerful and psychologically penetrating studies of colonial oppression ever written. Dissecting the minds of both the oppressor and the oppressed, Memmi reveals truths about the colonial situation and struggle that are as relevant today as they were five decades ago. Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer's new critical Introduction draws Memmi into the 21st century by reflecting on his achievements and highlighting his omissions. In doing so she opens new avenues of enquiry for scholars and students, and exposes new directions for activists seeking a more just world order in our neo-colonial age. With the fires of war, terrorism and protest burning around the globe, never has Memmi's work been such relevant and necessary reading.
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What motivates violence? How can good and compassionate people hurt and kill others or themselves? Why are people much more likely to kill or assault people they know well, rather than strangers? This provocative and radical book shows that people mostly commit violence because they genuinely feel that it is the morally right thing to do. In perpetrators’ minds, violence may be the morally necessary and proper way to regulate social relationships according to cultural precepts, precedents, and prototypes. These moral motivations apply equally to the violence of the heroes of the Iliad, to parents smacking their child, and to many modern murders and everyday acts of violence. Virtuous Violence presents a wide-ranging exploration of violence across different cultures and historical eras, demonstrating how people feel obligated to violently create, sustain, end, and honor social relationships in order to make them right, according to morally motivated cultural ideals.
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Dehumanization is a central concept in the study of intergroup relations. Yet although theoretical and methodological advances in subtle, “everyday” dehumanization have progressed rapidly, blatant dehu- manization remains understudied. The present research attempts to refocus theoretical and empirical attention on blatant dehumanization, examining when and why it provides explanatory power beyond subtle dehumanization. To accomplish this, we introduce and validate a blatant measure of dehuman- ization based on the popular depiction of evolutionary progress in the “Ascent of Man.” We compare blatant dehumanization to established conceptualizations of subtle and implicit dehumanization, includ- ing infrahumanization, perceptions of human nature and human uniqueness, and implicit associations between ingroup–outgroup and human–animal concepts. Across 7 studies conducted in 3 countries, we demonstrate that blatant dehumanization is (a) more strongly associated with individual differences in support for hierarchy than subtle or implicit dehumanization, (b) uniquely predictive of numerous consequential attitudes and behaviors toward multiple outgroup targets, (c) predictive above prejudice, and (d) reliable over time. Finally, we show that blatant—but not subtle—dehumanization spikes immedi- ately after incidents of real intergroup violence and strongly predicts support for aggressive actions like torture and retaliatory violence (after the Boston Marathon bombings and Woolwich attacks in England). This research extends theory on the role of dehumanization in intergroup relations and intergroup conflict and provides an intuitive, validated empirical tool to reliably measure blatant dehumanization.
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The book (originally published in 1990, now out of print, but occasionally still requested) aims to introduce law students to some of the philosophical dimensions of their subject, and to show philosophy students (in particular students of moral philosophy and philosophy of action) how attention to topics in criminal law theory can illuminate their subjects. It discusses a range of issues concerning concepts of action and their bearing on criminal liability: in particular, actus reus and mens rea; the meaning and legal significance of intention; recklessness; action; criminal attempts; responsibility.
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Results from three studies demonstrate that victims' justice-related satisfaction with punishment is influenced by the kind of feedback they receive from offenders after punishment. In contrast to previous studies that found a discrepancy between anticipated and experienced satisfaction from punishment (Carlsmith, Wilson, & Gilbert, 2008), participants were able to accurately predict their satisfaction when made aware of the presence or absence of offender feedback acknowledging the victim's intent to punish. Results also indicate that victims were most satisfied when offender feedback not only acknowledged the victim's intent to punish but also indicated a positive moral change in the offender's attitude toward wrongdoing. These findings indicate that punishment per se is neither satisfying nor dissatisfying but that it is crucial to take its communicative functions and its effects on the offender into account. Implications for psychological and philosophical theories on punishment motives as well as implications for justice procedures are discussed.
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Several authors have argued that dehumanization may be the psychological process that underlies people's willingness to torture outgroup members. In the current research, we directly examined this question among Christian participants, with Muslims as the target outgroup. Across two studies, we found that to the extent that Christians dehumanized Muslims, they were more likely to self-report the willingness to torture Muslim prisoners of war. We also found that perceiving Muslims as a threat moderated the relationship between dehumanization and the self-reported proclivity to torture. These findings support the propositions made by previous authors on the role of dehumanization in torture, war and genocide.
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Public opinion can permit or encourage retaliatory aggressive state policies against vulnerable but threatening out-groups. The authors present a model in which public support for such policies is determined by perceived threat from and dehumanization of the target group. This two-factor model predicts Israeli Jews' support for two retaliatory aggressive policies: the more hypothetical notion of Palestinian population transfer and concrete, coercive actions toward Palestinians. The authors find (1) that threat and dehumanization are distinct constructs, each having unique contributions to explaining support for aggressive retaliatory policies, (2) that threat and dehumanization significantly explain support for aggressive retaliatory policies when respondents' hawkishness, socioeconomic status (SES), and education level are taken into account, and (3) that the association of hawkishness and SES with support for aggressive retaliatory policies is largely mediated by threat perception. Results are highly consistent across two studies, suggesting the two-factor model may be useful for understanding support for aggressive action in situations of asymmetric conflict.
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We review early and recent psychological theories of dehumanization and survey the burgeoning empirical literature, focusing on six fundamental questions. First, we examine how people are dehumanized, exploring the range of ways in which perceptions of lesser humanness have been conceptualized and demonstrated. Second, we review who is dehumanized, examining the social targets that have been shown to be denied humanness and commonalities among them. Third, we investigate who dehumanizes, notably the personality, ideological, and other individual differences that increase the propensity to see others as less than human. Fourth, we explore when people dehumanize, focusing on transient situational and motivational factors that promote dehumanizing perceptions. Fifth, we examine the consequences of dehumanization, emphasizing its implications for prosocial and antisocial behavior and for moral judgment. Finally, we ask what can be done to reduce dehumanization. We conclude with a discussion of limitations of current scholarship and directions for future research. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 65 is January 03, 2014. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
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People often think that something must have a mind to be part of a moral interaction. However, the present research suggests that minds do not create morality but that morality creates minds. In four experiments, we found that observing intentional harm to an unconscious entity-a vegetative patient, a robot, or a corpse-leads to augmented attribution of mind to that entity. A fifth experiment reconciled these results with extant research on dehumanization by showing that observing the victimization of conscious entities leads to reduced attribution of mind to those entities. Taken together, these experiments suggest that the effects of victimization vary according to victims' preexisting mental status and that people often make an intuitive cognitive error when unconscious entities are placed in harm's way. People assume that if apparent moral harm occurs, then there must be someone there to experience that harm-a harm-made mind. These findings have implications for political policies concerning right-to-life issues.
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In [this book, the authors] describe a provocative theory that focuses on social conflicts and the concepts of power, influence, social identity, and retributive justice. They begin with a thorough examination and critique of the traditional theories of aggression, including biological, physiological, and criminological perspectives. They go on to synthesize key findings of these and other theoretical perspectives to support and define their own social interactionist theory of aggression that explores face-to-face confrontations and the intent of the aggressor's particular actions. "Violence, Aggression, and Coercive Actions" offers a new interdisciplinary approach to the study of aggression that is rooted in social and psychological perspectives. [The authors] present a strong theoretical foundation for practical analysis and intervention. Particularly thought provoking are discussions surrounding pornography, television, and other media violence; sexual coercion; and parenting styles (contrasting the use of abusive discipline with normal deterrents). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a relatively new website that contains the major elements required to conduct research: an integrated participant compensation system; a large participant pool; and a streamlined process of study design, participant recruitment, and data collection. In this article, we describe and evaluate the potential contributions of MTurk to psychology and other social sciences. Findings indicate that (a) MTurk participants are slightly more demographically diverse than are standard Internet samples and are significantly more diverse than typical American college samples; (b) participation is affected by compensation rate and task length, but participants can still be recruited rapidly and inexpensively; (c) realistic compensation rates do not affect data quality; and (d) the data obtained are at least as reliable as those obtained via traditional methods. Overall, MTurk can be used to obtain high-quality data inexpensively and rapidly. © The Author(s) 2011.
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Moral exclusion occurs when individuals or groups are perceived as outside the boundary in which moral values, rules, and considerations of fairness apply. Those who are morally excluded are perceived as nonentities, expendable, or undeserving. Consequently, harming or exploiting them appears to be appropriate, acceptable, or just. This broad definition encompasses both severe and mild forms of moral exclusion, from genocide to discrimination. The paper discusses the antecedents and symptoms of moral exclusion, and the interaction between the psychological and social factors that foster its development. Empirical research on moral exclusion is needed to pinpoint its causes, to predict its progression, and to effect change in social issues that involve the removal of victims from our moral communities. The last section of the paper introduces the articles that follow.
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The paper identifies a class of violent acts that can best be described as sanctioned massacres. The special features of sanctioned massacres are that they occur in the context of a genocidal policy, and that they are directed at groups that have not themselves threatened or engaged in hostile actions against the perpetrators of the violence. The psychological environment in which such massacres occur lacks the conditions normally perceived as providing some degree of moral justification for violence. In searching for a psychological explanation of mass violence under these conditions, it is instructive to focus on factors reducing the strength of restraining forces against violence. Three interrelated processes are discussed in detail: (a) processes of authorization, which define the situation as one in which standard moral principles do not apply and the individual is absolved of responsibility to make personal moral choices; (b) processes of routinization, which so organize the action that there is no opportunity for raising moral questions and making moral decisions; and (c) processes of dehumanization which deprive both victim and victimizer of identity and community. The paper concludes with suggestions for corrective efforts that might help to prevent sanctioned massacres by counteracting the systemic and attitudinal supports for the processes described.
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Being human implies a particular moral status: having moral value, agency, and responsibility. However, people are not seen as equally human. Across two studies, we examine the consequences that subtle variations in the perceived humanness of actors or groups have for their perceived moral status. Drawing on Haslam's two-dimensional model of humanness and focusing on three ways people may be considered to have moral status - moral patiency (value), agency, or responsibility - we demonstrate that subtly denying humanness to others has implications for whether they are blamed, praised, or cons