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.