Of Mice and Men, and Objectified Women: A Terror Management Account of Infra-Humanization

Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, Vol. 12, pp. 1-14, 2009

14 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2011

See all articles by Jamie Goldenberg

Jamie Goldenberg

University of South Florida

Nathan Heflick

University of South Florida

Jeroen Vaes

University of Padua

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago

Jeff Greenberg

University of Arizona

Date Written: February 17, 2011

Abstract

This article offers terror management theory (TMT) as a conceptual lens through which the process of infra-humanization can be viewed. TMT suggests that people are threatened by the awareness of their mortal, animal nature, and that by emphasizing their symbolic, cultural –  and hence, uniquely human – existence, they can help quell this threat. The article reviews empirical evidence demonstrating that reminders of mortality increase efforts to see the self and in-groups as more uniquely human. In addition, it is posited that, as an ironic consequence of defensive efforts to rid the self and certain others of any connection to animal nature, people are sometimes stripped of their human nature. The study presents evidence that the objectification, and self-objectification, of women can be viewed from this perspective and concludes that both emphasizing people’s uniquely human qualities and viewing them as objectifieed symbols can be understood as serving a terror management function.

Keywords: terror management, objectification, creatureliness, infrahumanization

Suggested Citation

Goldenberg, Jamie and Heflick, Nathan and Vaes, Jeroen and Motyl, Matt and Greenberg, Jeff, Of Mice and Men, and Objectified Women: A Terror Management Account of Infra-Humanization (February 17, 2011). Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, Vol. 12, pp. 1-14, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1763507

Jamie Goldenberg (Contact Author)

University of South Florida ( email )

Tampa, FL 33620
United States

Nathan Heflick

University of South Florida ( email )

Tampa, FL 33620
United States

Jeroen Vaes

University of Padua ( email )

Via 8 Febbraio, 2
Padova, 35122
Italy

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1007 W. Harrison St. (m/c 285)
Psychology Department
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1102 Behavioral Science Building (BSB)
Chicago, IL 60607-7137
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

Jeff Greenberg

University of Arizona ( email )

Department of History
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

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