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Title: The developmental origins of dehumanisation
Author: Mcloughlin, Niamh
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 4838
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2017
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Dehumanisation is a pervasive social phenomenon that has facilitated historical and modern examples of extreme violence, prejudice and discrimination. The perception that a person can be ‘less human’ than another person is typically applied to social outgroup members who are attributed with fewer uniquely human capacities compared to ingroup members. A significant amount of developmental research has examined the origins of intergroup bias among young children, however, investigation into the development of our tendency to dehumanise others has been relatively neglected. This is despite the fact that dehumanisation is closely linked to children’s social cognitive understanding (e.g., mental state inference) and behaviour (e.g., prosociality). The aim of my doctoral studies was to investigate the developmental origins of this phenomenon. The results of the empirical work in Chapters 2 and 3 revealed that 6-year-olds perceive outgroup faces to be physically less human than ingroup faces and that even younger children (5-year-olds) are less likely to reference the mental states of individuals belonging to a different group. The final experimental chapter (Chapter 4) explored the effects of encouraging children to mentalise about the behaviour of a perceived outgroup and showed that this technique is sufficient to increase empathic helping towards an outgroup member in need. The implications of this research for the nature of dehumanisation in development, as well as for children’s understanding of human and non-human agents, are discussed. Ultimately, further inquiry into how dehumanising biases emerge, and are potentially learnt, could contribute to strategies focused on improving intergroup relations.
Supervisor: Over, Harriet ; Tipper, Steven P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available