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The link between self-dehumanization and immoral behavior, Psychological Science


People perceive morality to be distinctively human, with immorality representing a lack of full humanness. Eight experiments examine the link between immorality and self-dehumanization, testing both (a) the causal role of immoral behavior on self-dehumanization and (b) the causal role of self-dehumanization on immoral behavior. Studies 1a-1d show people feel less human after behaving immorally and these effects were not driven by having a negative experience but were unique to experiences of immorality (Study 1d). Studies 2a-2c show self-dehumanization can lead to immoral and anti-social behavior. Study 3 highlights how self-dehumanization can sometimes produce downward spirals of immorality, demonstrating initial unethical behavior leading to self-dehumanization, which in turn promotes continued dishonesty. These results demonstrate a clear relationship between self-dehumanization and unethical behavior, and extend previous theorizing on dehumanization.




Maryam Kouchaki, Kyle Dobson, Kyle Dobson, Kyle Dobson, Adam Waytz, Adam Waytz, Adam Waytz, Nour Kteily, Nour Kteily

Date Published



Kouchaki, Maryam, Kyle Dobson, Kyle Dobson, Kyle Dobson, Adam Waytz, Adam Waytz, Adam Waytz, Nour Kteily, and Nour Kteily. 2018. The link between self-dehumanization and immoral behavior. Psychological Science.


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