Perception of mind and dehumanization: Human, animal, or machine?

María D. Morera, María N. Quiles, Ana D. Correa, Naira Delgado, Jacques‐Philippe Leyens
Published Online:
02 Aug 2016
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 53 Issue 4

Additional Options

Dehumanization is reached through several approaches, including the attribute‐based model of mind perception and the metaphor‐based model of dehumanization. We performed two studies to find different (de)humanized images for three targets: Professional people, Evil people, and Lowest of the low. In Study 1, we examined dimensions of mind, expecting the last two categories to be dehumanized through denial of agency (Lowest of the low) or experience (Evil people), compared with humanized targets (Professional people). Study 2 aimed to distinguish these targets using metaphors. We predicted that Evil and Lowest of the low targets would suffer mechanistic and animalistic dehumanization, respectively; our predictions were confirmed, but the metaphor‐based model nuanced these results: animalistic and mechanistic dehumanization were shown as overlapping rather than independent. Evil persons were perceived as “killing machines” and “predators.” Finally, Lowest of the low were not animalized but considered human beings. We discuss possible interpretations.

© 2016 International Union of Psychological Science