Number 3 (2007)

Mirosławska, M., Kofta, M. (2007). The infrahumanization phenomenon: A preliminary test of the generalization-of-the self explanation

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Monika Mirosławska
Mirosław Kofta

University of Warsaw, Psychology Faculty

Abstract:
People tend to ascribe secondary (specifically human) emotions to ingroup members more than to outgroup members, whereas no such tendency is observed for primary (basic) emotions (the phenomenon of infrahumanization). In our study we compared J.P. Leyens’ essentialistic explanation (humanity as an essence of ingroup category) to the generalization-of-the-self explanation (the model suggested by research on the self as a source of ingroup image) of the phenomenon. Participants ascribed personality traits and emotions to the self. Then, in the minimal group paradigm, they made the same ascriptions, this time to the (minimal) ingroup and outgroup. No general infrahumanization effect emerged, whereas strong ingroup bias was found. In line with generalization-of-the-self approach, participants from the subgroup with stronger self-ascriptions of secondary than primary emotions showed the classical infrahumanization effect, whereas participants from subgroup with stronger self-ascriptions of primary than secondary emotions tended to infrahumanize the ingroup. In conclusion, when secondary emotions dominate over primary emotions in the representation of the self, the projection of one’s own emotions to the ingroup might be responsible for the humanization of the ingroup and the infrahumanization of outgroups.
Keywords: infrahumanization, primary vs. secondary emotions, self-ascription, ingroup vs. outgroup, essentialistic hypothesis, generalization-of-the-self hypothesis

Cite this article as:

Mirosławska, M., Kofta, M. (2007). The infrahumanization phenomenon: A preliminary test of the generalization-of-the self explanation. Psychologia Społeczna, 3, 42-51.
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