Dehumanization of Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Groups Decreases Support for Welfare Policies via Perceived Wastefulness

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Description: Low-socioeconomic status (SES) groups are sometimes depicted as money-wasters who live on welfare. Previous research has also found that low-SES groups are also animalized. We expand previous findings (Sainz et al., 2019), by examining the consequences that this animalization has on support for social welfare policies (e.g., unemployment, housing) and governmental control of low-SES groups’ spending. We explored the mediating role of perceived wastefulness (i.e., the perception that low-SES people are lack of the ability to properly administer their budget) in the relationships between animalization and support for welfare policies and governmental control measures. In three correlation studies, 1a to 1c, we examined the relationships between these variables in three countries: The United Kingdom, the United States, and Spain. From our results, animalizing low-SES groups seem to negatively predict support for public policies and positively predict support for governmental control via the perception that low-SES people are unable to manage their finances. Finally, in two experimental studies, 2a and 2b, we directly manipulated the humanness of a low-SES group (animalized vs. humanized) and measured its effects on perceptions of the group’s wastefulness, support for social welfare policies, and support for governmental control over the group’s expenses. Results indicated that animalizing low-SES groups reduced support for social welfare by activating the impression that low-SES people are poor financial managers (Study 2a), but also that animalizing low-SES groups increased support for governmental control via perceived wastefulness (Studies 2a-b). We discuss the role of animalization in denying aid to those in need.

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