Social connection enables dehumanization

Adam Waytz*, Nicholas Epley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

86 Scopus citations

Abstract

Being socially connected has considerable benefits for oneself, but may have negative consequences for evaluations of others. In particular, being socially connected to close others satisfies the need for social connection, and creates disconnection from more distant others. We therefore predicted that feeling socially connected would increase the tendency to dehumanize more socially distant others. Four experiments support this prediction. Those led to feel socially connected were less likely to attribute humanlike mental states to members of various social groups (Experiments 1 and 2), particularly distant others compared to close others (Experiment 3), and were also more likely to recommend harsh treatment for dehumanized others (i.e., terrorist detainees, Experiment 4). Discussion addresses the mechanisms by which social connection enables dehumanization, and the varied behavioral implications that result.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-76
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

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Keywords

  • Dehumanization
  • Morality
  • Social connection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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