Understanding the Relationship between Attribute-Based and Metaphor-Based Dehumanization

Steve Loughnan*, Nick Haslam, Yoshihisa Kashima

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Previous research has adopted two distinct approaches to the study of dehumanization. One has focused on the denial of human attributes to groups (attribute-based dehumanization) and the other on the likening of group members to nonhumans (metaphor-based dehumanization). The relationship between these two approaches has yet to be examined. The current studies seek to clarify this relationship by integrating the two approaches. Using Haslam and colleagues' (Haslam, 2006; Haslam, Loughnan, Kashima & Bain, 2008) model of dehumanization, we examined whether attribute-based dehumanization leads to metaphor-based dehumanization, and vice versa. In Study 1 participants read about a novel group that was described either as lacking one type of humanness or as being like a nonhuman. In Study 2 a concrete learning task taught participants that a novel group lacked a specific type of humanness. In both studies, participants explicitly learned to dehumanize the group and inferred the corresponding type of attribute-or metaphor-based perception (e.g. perceived a group as animal-like after learning that it lacked uniquely human attributes, and vice versa). Implicitly, however, participants were able to directly learn but not robustly infer the corresponding type of dehumanization. We suggest that the relationship between the two types of dehumanization can be understood using cognitive models of metaphor-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-762
Number of pages16
JournalGroup Processes & Intergroup Relations (GPIR)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • dehumanization
  • infrahumanization
  • metaphor
  • SELF


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