Speaker: Dr. Florence Enock, 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 dehumanisation of out-group members – the dual model, and infrahumanisation theory.
According to the dual model, out-group members can be dehumanised by being thought to possess uniquely and characteristically human traits to a lesser extent than in-group members.
According to infrahumanisation theory, out-group members can be subtly dehumanised 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 out-group members tend to be attributed some uniquely human qualities and emotions to a lesser extent than in-group members, they are attributed others to a greater extent.
I will also describe experimental data challenging the claim that subtle dehumanisation is associated with reduced intentions to help others.
Taken together, the results suggest that these two leading psychological theories of dehumanisation may not accurately capture how human psychology contributes to intergroup bias.