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No convincing evidence outgroups are denied uniquely human characteristics: Distinguishing intergroup preference from traitbased dehumanization

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JournalCognition
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Mar 2021
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 24 Mar 2021
DatePublished - 1 Jul 2021
Volume212
Number of pages17
Early online date24/03/21
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

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. However, previous research on this topic has tended to investigate the attribution of human traits that are socially desirable in nature such as warmth, civility and rationality. As a result, it has not yet been possible to determine whether this form of dehumanization is distinct from intergroup preference and stereotyping. We first establish that participants associate undesirable (e.g., corrupt, jealous) as well as desirable (e.g., open-minded, generous) traits with humans. We then go on to show that participants tend to attribute desirable human traits more strongly to ingroup members but undesirable human traits more strongly to outgroup members. This pattern holds across three different intergroup contexts for which dehumanization effects have previously been reported: political opponents, immigrants and criminals. Taken together, these studies cast doubt on the claim that a trait-based account of
representing others as ‘less human’ holds value in the study of intergroup bias.

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© 2021 The Authors.

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