Dehumanization occurs when a person or group is perceived as less than human, is likened to a nonhuman, or is treated in a way that disregards the person's or group's humanity. Social psychologists have generally studied dehumanization in contexts of intergroup conflict and violence, such as war and genocide, because the phenomenon appears to be intimately involved in them. In these contexts, dehumanizing perceptions are frequently expressed, and they play a central role in enabling aggressive behavior and freeing aggressors from normal moral restraints.

This entry discusses the concept of dehumanization and presents the different approaches that social psychologists have taken to understand it. After laying out these theoretical perspectives, the entry discusses recent work on more subtle forms of dehumanization, focusing on the phenomenon of ...

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