Humanizing the self: Moderators of the attribution of lesser humanness to others

Nick Haslam, Paul Bain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

99 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Three studies investigated moderators of the tendency to attribute greater humanness to the self than to others, an interpersonal counterpart of outgroup infra-humanization. Study 1 demonstrated that this self-humanizing effect is reduced when the other is the focus of comparison. Study 2 showed that the effect is reduced when the other is individuated. Study 3 indicated that empathy does not moderate self-humanizing: Self-humanizing failed to correlate negatively with dispositional empathy or perspective-taking. Study 3 also indicated that abstract construal moderates the self-humanizing effect using a temporal comparison. Participants rated their future self, but not their past self, as less human than their present self. Studies 1 and 3 also showed that self-humanizing is greater for undesirable traits: People may view their failings as "only human." All findings were distinct from those attributable to self-enhancement. Self-humanizing may reflect a combination of egocentrism, focalism, abstract representation of others, and motivated processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-68
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

Keywords

  • Dehumanization
  • Empathy
  • Human nature
  • Self-enhancement
  • Social comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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