Disgust facilitates outgroup dehumanization


Outgroup dehumanization figures centrally in historical intergroup violence, yet little is known about the factors that promote dehumanized perceptions of others. Drawing on research highlighting the importance of disgust-relevant social categorizations and disgust sensitivity to outgroup dehumanization, the authors hypothesized that feelings of disgust causally facilitate dehumanized social cognition. To test this hypothesis, participants (N = 94) were randomly assigned to receive inductions of disgusted, sad, or neutral emotions. We then assessed their implicit associations between animals and an arbitrary outgroup created with a minimal-groups procedure. Results showed that although all participants demonstrated dehumanizing biases, disgusted participants showed the strongest associations between the outgroup and animals (and the ingroup with humanity). Participants in the sad and neutral groups did not differ. Disgust thus appears to have the unique capacity to foster the social-cognitive dehumanization of outgroup members.

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations


Buckels, E. E., & Trapnell, P. D. (2013). Disgust facilitates outgroup dehumanization. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations16(6), 771–780. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430212471738

Erin E. Buckels
Erin E. Buckels
Assistant Professor of Psychology