Join us as we explore current research in this area with Dr Florence Enock the University of York
Psychological research can only help to improve intergroup relations if it accurately characterises the underlying mechanisms of intergroup bias. Two social psychological theories have been particularly influential in our understanding of the dehumanization of outgroup members – the dual model, and infrahumanization theory. According to the dual model, outgroup members can be dehumanized by being thought to possess uniquely and characteristically human traits to a lesser extent than ingroup members. According to infrahumanization theory, outgroup members can be subtly dehumanized by being denied uniquely human emotions. I will present a series of empirical challenges to these claims. I will describe experimental data suggesting that, although outgroup members tend to be attributed some uniquely human qualities and emotions to a lesser extent than ingroup members, they are attributed others to a greater extent. I will also describe experimental data challenging the claim that subtle dehumanization is associated with reduced intentions to help others. Taken together, the results suggest that these two leading psychological theories of dehumanization may not accurately capture how human psychology contributes to intergroup bias.