Bleeding-Heart Liberals and Hard-Hearted Conservatives: Subtle Political Dehumanization Through Differential Attributions of Human Nature and Human Uniqueness Traits
32 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2013
Date Written: August 15, 2013
This research demonstrated that human nature (HN) and human uniqueness (HU) traits capture the content of people’s stereotypes about liberals and conservatives, respectively. Consistent with expectations derived from dehumanization theory, people more strongly associated HN traits with liberals than with conservatives, and more strongly associated HU traits with conservatives than with liberals. A trait × target ideology × perceiver ideology × trait valence interaction suggested that both liberals and conservatives more strongly associated their in-group with stereotype-consistent positive qualities, and their out-group with stereotype-consistent negative qualities. Mediation analyses revealed that out-group antipathy, but not in-group liking, explained the relationship between ideology and political out-group dehumanization. Finally, humanness traits captured subtle differences in political stereotype content not captured with the warmth and competence ratings derived from the stereotype content model. Together, these results indicate that differential attributions of HN and HU traits capture political stereotype content and function to subtly dehumanize one’s political opponents.
Keywords: dehumanization, politics, political psychology, culture war, civility, stereotypes, inter-group relations
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