Subhuman, inhuman, and superhuman: Contrasting humans with nonhumans in three cultures

Nick Haslam*, Yoshihisa Kashima, Stephen Loughnan, Junqi Shi, Caterina Suitner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To understand dehumanization, we must understand how humans are contrasted with nonhumans. Our work (Haslam, 2006) proposes two forms of dehumanization, in which people are denied uniquely human attributes and likened to animals, or denied human nature attributes and likened to robots. In the light of this model, we examined the mental capacities that are believed to differentiate humans from animals, robots, and supernatural beings in three cultures (Australia, China, Italy). Cross-culturally consistent patterns emerged, with humans differing from nonhumans; on two dimensions that Closely resembled our two proposed forms of humanness. Compared to humans, animals were seen as lacking higher cognitive powers and refined emotion, but also as having superior perceptual capacities. Robots chiefly lacked emotion- and desire-related capacities. Supernatural beings had superior cognitive and perceptual capacities. Implications for dehumanization are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-258
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


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