Understanding dehumanization: The role of agency and communion
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Description: Dehumanization is the denial of full human potential to an individual or a social group. Although it is widely seen as a grave social ill, the psychological roots of dehumanization are not yet clear. In the present research, we examined the role of agency and communion. These dimensions are pivotal in perceiving other people, and we hypothesized that they might be crucial to viewing people as fully human. In eight experiments, we manipulated agency or communion using either videos of interacting geometric shapes or by manipulating static images of faces showing different degrees of agency and communion. Participants rated the degree of humanness of presented targets. Across the studies and in meta-analyses (N = 758 for agency and N = 776 for communion), agency but not communion had systematic effects on humanness ratings. Granting agency might therefore limit dehumanization.