Attributing human uniqueness and human nature to cultural groups: Distinct forms of subtle dehumanization

Paul Bain, Joonha Park, Christopher Kwok, Nick Haslam

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102 Citations (SciVal)


Research on subtle dehumanization has focused on the attribution of human uniqueness to groups (infrahumanization), but has not examined another sense of humanness, human nature. Additionally, research has not extended far beyond Western cultures to examine the universality of these forms of dehumanization. Hence, the attribution of both forms of humanness was examined in three cross-cultural studies. Anglo-Australian and ethnic Chinese attributed values and traits (Study 1, N = 200) and emotions (Study 2, N = 151) to Australian and Chinese groups, and rated these characteristics on human uniqueness and human nature. Both studies found evidence of complementary attributions of humanness for Australians, who denied Chinese human nature but attributed them with greater human uniqueness. Chinese denied Australians human uniqueness, but their attributions of human nature varied for traits, values, and emotions. Study 3 (N = 54) demonstrated similar forms of dehumanization using an implicit method. These results and their implications for dehumanization and prejudice suggest the need to broaden investigation and theory to encompass both forms of humanness, and examine the attribution of both lesser and greater humanness to outgroups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-805
Number of pages17
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number6
Early online date21 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Australia
  • China
  • Cross-cultural
  • Dehumanization
  • Human nature
  • Human uniqueness
  • Infrahumanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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