Dehumanization, defined as the psychological process through which others are perceived as being non-human, has been of interest to researchers for many years, in part because of its potential to inform our understanding of how human beings justify harm toward out-groups. The current research extends the literature by using a novel experimental manipulation to investigate dehumanization’s effect on automatic behavior toward out-groups (e.g., racial shooter biases) and examined perceived threat as a moderator. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (African-American dehumanization, white dehumanization, and control). Across two studies (Study 1, n = 290; Study 2, n = 318), those in the African-American dehumanization condition were quicker to correctly shoot armed African-American (vs. white) targets (d = − .21, 95% CI [− .38, − .04]) compared to the other two conditions. This effect was only significant among participants who perceived African-Americans as relatively more threatening.
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Supplemental analyses in the appendix show that the results were similar when only considering women.
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Mekawi, Y., Bresin, K. & Hunter, C.D. Dehumanization of African-Americans Influences Racial Shooter Biases. Race Soc Probl 11, 299–307 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-019-09267-y
- Anti-black prejudice
- Racial shooter bias
- Moral disengagement