Animalizing the disadvantaged, mechanizing the wealthy: The convergence of socio‐economic status and attribution of humanity

Mario Sainz, Rocío Martínez, Miguel Moya, Rosa Rodríguez‐Bailón
Published Online:
06 Apr 2018
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Early View Articles

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Differences between groups in socio‐economic status (SES) are becoming more salient nowadays. In this context, we examined the animalistic and mechanistic dehumanization that both low and high‐SES groups may experience respectively by conducting three studies. In study 1, we manipulated the SES of two fictitious groups (low vs. high‐SES) and measured the humanity ascribed to them. Results showed that the low‐SES group was animalized in comparison with the high‐SES group, which was mechanized. In study 2, we manipulated the humanity of two fictitious groups by describing them as animals or machines and measured the perceived SES of the groups. Participants tended to attribute lower SES to the group described as animals and higher SES to the group described as machines. Finally, in study 3, we used an Implicit Association Test to replicate the results of studies 1 and 2. Taken together, these studies show that low‐SES groups are considered as animal‐like whereas high‐SES groups are seen as robot‐like. We discuss the implications of these findings in relation to the justification of income inequality within our society.

© 2018 International Union of Psychological Science