Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 504–515 | Cite as

Which Partners Are More Human? Monogamy Matters More than Sexual Orientation for Dehumanization in Three European Countries

  • David RodriguesEmail author
  • Fabio Fasoli
  • Aleksandra Huic
  • Diniz Lopes


Compared to monogamous relationships, consensual non-monogamous (CNM) relationships are stigmatized. Similarly, compared to heterosexual individuals, gay men are perceived to have more promiscuous and less committed romantic relationships. Hence, CNM and same-sex male relationships are potential targets of dehumanization (i.e., denied traits considered unique of human beings). We tested the impact of monogamy and sexual orientation on dehumanization, and examined if CNM (vs. monogamous) and same-sex (vs. heterosexual) partners are dehumanized through the attribution of primary (non-uniquely human) and secondary (uniquely human) emotions. A sample of heterosexual young adults (N = 585, 455 women; M age = 25.55, SD = 7.48) in three European countries—Croatia, Italy, and Portugal—attributed primary and secondary emotions to four groups: (a) CNM same-sex male partners, (b) CNM heterosexual partners, (c) monogamous same-sex male partners, and (d) monogamous heterosexual partners. Results showed that uniquely human emotions were attributed less to CNM than to monogamous partners, and this happened regardless of sexual orientation. Furthermore, CNM same-sex and CNM heterosexual partners were evaluated similarly. This pattern of results was consistent across countries. The implication of these findings for social policies and sexual rights is discussed.


Consensual non-monogamy Sexual orientation Dehumanization Stigmatization Cross-national 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


This research was funded by the grant SFRH/BPD/73528/2010, awarded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) to the first author.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Organizational PsychologyInstituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), CIS-IULLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, GoldsmithsUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  4. 4.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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