Is suffering less human? Distressing situations' effects on dehumanizing the self and others

Sakalaki, M., Richardson, C. & Fousiani, K., 1-Jan-2017, In : Hellenic Journal of Psychology. 14, 1, p. 39-63 25 p.

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  • Is suffering less human? Distressing situations' effects on dehumanizing the self and others

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The present investigation aimed to explore whether distressing situations that inflict suffering can induce denial of humanness to the self and others. The first study (N =73) explored whether positive situations are perceived as more human than negative ones. Study 2 (N = 158) examined the association between self-dehumanization and dispositional variables that reduce psychological well-being. Study 3 (N =96) investigated experimentally the tendency of observers to dehumanize a woman subject to various degrees of familial and economic difficulties. Study 4 (N = 191) examined experimentally the association between the deprivation of unemployed people and the propensity of observers to dehumanize them. Finally, Study 5 (N =203) explored whether individuals who have serious ormoderatemental disorders aremore dehumanized than people with no disorder, under low or high social status. Confirming our hypotheses, the main results showed that: a) positive situations are judged to be more human than negative ones; b) self-dehumanization is positively correlated with ill-being variables like negative affect, anxiety and somatization (with dispositional variables that increase suffering), but negatively correlated with positive affect, vitality and self-actualization (variables well known to increase well-being); c) the more a woman suffers from difficult familial and economic conditions, the more the observers tend to dehumanize her; d) the dehumanization of victims of unemployment is greater than the dehumanization of those who have a job; and e) individuals with low status andmoderate or severe mental disorder are more dehumanized than those who have no mental disorder, or have a mental disorder but are of high status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-63
Number of pages25
JournalHellenic Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1-Jan-2017


  • Dehumanization, Experience/Agency, Mind perception, Psychological well-being, Self-dehumanization, Social suffering

ID: 107901628