Does valuing extrinsic goals lead to the animalizing and inanimatizing of others?

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2016-08-15

Authors

Gibson, Taylor M.

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Abstract

The objective of the study was to determine whether individuals’ values are associated with their tendency to deny others’ humanity. We also examined the effect of social status; predicting that participants would attribute the most humanity to members of their group, while perceiving members of low status groups as animalistic, and members of high status groups as mechanistic. We measured humanity denial by asking participants (N = 202) to rate how typical high- and low- humanity emotions and traits were of soccer players from five national teams. Participants’ values were measured by asking how much they endorsed goals that were socially rewarding (e.g., wealth) vs. inherently rewarding (e.g., affiliation). Results indicated that, the higher participants valued social rewards, the more they denied others’ humanity. Additionally, members of the participants’ group were perceived as less animalistic than members of other groups, but more mechanistic. Results provided mixed support for the association between group status and humanity denial, but did not indicate that the latter was associated with participants’ overall values. We interpret these results by examining individuals’ tendency to protect their group, and their ability to reframe humanity denial as a positive aspect of their identity. We also discuss how individuals’ rationales for identifying with groups could influence their perceptions of others, and discuss implications for subsequent studies.

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