EAESP Small Group Meeting on Dehumanization

Determinants and Consequences of Perceiving Others as Less Than Humans

Kazimierz Dolny, 6-9.06.2008 


Organizers: Miroslaw Kofta, Jacques-Philippe Leyens, Emanuele Castano, Michal Bilewicz

Local Organizing Committee: Mikolaj Winiewski, Adrian Wojcik, Monika Miroslawska, Patrycja Slawuta, Michał Bilewicz, Mirosław Kofta 

The process of dehumanization, and its links to intergroup violence, has attracted the interest of psychologists and social scientists in general for decades. However, with few exceptions, its discussion has mostly been theoretical or characterized by the consideration of limited and anecdotal empirical evidence. On the contrary, the new interest innovates by a more systematic effort to test experimentally the hypotheses deriving from various theoretical models and to develop measures of dehumanization. Its detection mobilizes techniques as diverse as content analyses, questionnaires, implicit measures, or neuro-imaging. In other words, research on dehumanization is now akin to, although it greatly expands upon, traditional research in stereotyping, prejudice, and intergroup bias.


Dehumanization is a complex process. It takes different forms in strong, protracted conflicts than in milder ones. It seems to differ depending on the relationship between the ingroup and the outgroup, sometimes being akin to animalization of the other, while at other times equating the target to an emotionless machine. And while it occurs in subtle forms in everyday life, it can be used to prepare for intergroup violence, or to justify past violence against another group. We are also interested in the opposite process: How people humanize themselves, ingroups or (sometimes) outgroups? When one thinks about how to combat dehumanization, it is very natural to focus on the processes allowing to perceive others - also outgroupers - as full-scale human beings.


Recognizing the complexity of this phenomenon, the aim of the small group meeting was to bring together researchers representing this great variety in situations, theories, and techniques to assess it, with the goal of drawing a map of the existing research, and to facilitate exchange and cross-fertilization among researchers.


Conference programme is available here.