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

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to David Rodrigues.

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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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Rodrigues, D., Fasoli, F., Huic, A. et al. Which Partners Are More Human? Monogamy Matters More than Sexual Orientation for Dehumanization in Three European Countries. Sex Res Soc Policy 15, 504–515 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-017-0290-0

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Keywords

  • Consensual non-monogamy
  • Sexual orientation
  • Dehumanization
  • Stigmatization
  • Cross-national