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Are they Animals or Machines? Measuring Dehumanization

  • Rocío Martínez (a1), Rosa Rodríguez-Bailón (a1) and Miguel Moya (a1)

The present research deals with two forms of dehumanization: 1) denying uniquely human attributes to others (seeing them as animals); 2) denying human nature to others (seeing them as machines or automata). Studies 1 and 2 explored these two forms of dehumanization, analyzing whether people associated their ingroup more with human-related words (vs. animal- vs. machine-related words) than two different outgroups. A paper and pencil procedure was used to find out which words were associated with the surnames of the ingroup (Spaniards) or the outgroup (Germans, Gypsies). Results showed that participants were more ready to link ingroup than outgroup surnames to human words. They also linked more Gypsy surnames to animal-related words and German surnames with machine-related words. Studies 3 and 4 used the Implicit Association Test to analyze the same ideas and replicated the results of Studies 1 and 2.

La investigación que se presenta trata sobre dos formas de deshumanización: 1) Negar a los demás cualidades exclusivamente humanas (viéndolos como animales); 2) negarles la naturaleza humana (viéndolos como máquinas o autómatas). En los estudios 1 y 2 se examinaron ambas formas de deshumanización analizando si la gente asociaba más al endogrupo con palabras relativas a humanos (vs. animales o máquinas) en comparación con dos exogrupos diferentes. Se utilizó un procedimiento de papel y lápiz para saber qué palabras se asociaban más con los apellidos del endogrupo (españoles) o con los apellidos del exogrupo (alemanes, gitanos). Los resultados pusieron de manifiesto que los participantes relacionaron en mayor medida los apellidos del endogrupo con las palabras relativas a humanos. Además también vincularon los apellidos gitanos con palabras vinculadas a animales y los apellidos alemanes con palabras de máquinas. En los estudios 3 y 4 se utilizó el Test de Asociación Implícita (IAT) para probar las mismas ideas y los resultados corroboraron los encontrados en los estudios 1 y 2.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Rocío Martínez. Departamento de Psicología Social, Facultad de Psicología. Campus de Cartuja s/n. 18011 - Granada (Spain). E-mail:
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The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
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