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.
- Anti-black prejudice
- Moral disengagement
- Racial shooter bias
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science