Take Action

Home | Faculty & Research Overview | Research

Research Details

Denying Humanity: The distinct neural correlates of blatant dehumanization, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General


Recent behavioral work demonstrates that many people view low-status groups as less 'evolved and civilized' than high-status groups. Are these people using blatant expressions of dehumanization simply to express strong dislike towards other groups? Or is blatant dehumanization a process distinct from other negative assessments? We tested these competing hypotheses using functional neuroimaging. Participants judged ten groups (e.g. Europeans, Muslims, rats) on four scales: blatant dehumanization, dislike, dissimilarity and perceived within-group homogeneity. Consistent with expectations, neural responses when making ratings of dehumanization diverged from those when judging the same targets on the other related dimensions. Specifically, we found regions in the left inferior parietal cortex (IPC) and left inferior frontal cortex (IFC) that were selectively parametrically modulated by dehumanization ratings. The pattern of responses in the left IFC was also consistent with animalistic dehumanization: high responses to low-status human groups and animals, and lower responses to high- status human groups. By contrast, a region in the posterior cingulate cortex was parametrically sensitive specifically to liking. We therefore demonstrate a double dissociation between brain activity associated with judgments of blatant dehumanization and judgments of dislike.




Emile Bruneau, Nir Jacoby, Nour Kteily, Rebecca Saxe

Date Published



Bruneau, Emile, Nir Jacoby, Nour Kteily, and Rebecca Saxe. 2018. Denying Humanity: The distinct neural correlates of blatant dehumanization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.(7): 1078-1093.


Explore leading research and ideas

Find articles, podcast episodes, and videos that spark ideas in lifelong learners, and inspire those looking to advance in their careers.
learn more


Review Courses & Schedules

Access information about specific courses and their schedules by viewing the interactive course scheduler tool.


Discover the path to your goals

Whether you choose our Full-Time, Part-Time or Executive MBA program, you’ll enjoy the same unparalleled education, exceptional faculty and distinctive culture.
learn more