Shared identity and dehumanization of currently incarcerated people
Dehumanization literature often focuses on processes related to interpersonal and intergroup relations. However, there is little prior literature testing the relationship between shared and unshared social identities, and how that might impact the dehumanization process. Therefore, the current research examined the relationship between dehumanization and shared racial identity. It was tested here that the dehumanization process would be affected by an outgroup member (i.e., currently incarcerated person) possessing a shared racial identity with a perceiver. This study additionally explored whether crime type affected the extent to which an incarcerated person is dehumanized even when they share a common racial group identity. It was hypothesized that when a currently incarcerated person shares a common racial ingroup with another person, they would be dehumanized to a lesser extent. Further, it was hypothesized that a person currently incarcerated for a non-violent crime would be dehumanized to a lesser extent than a person incarcerated for a violent crime. The current study used a three-cell design to test these hypothesis (i.e., shared racial identity/non-violent crime, shared racial identity/violent crime, and no shared racial identity/violent crime). Consistent with the hypothesis regarding crime type, the results showed that the White non-violent offender was attributed more negative secondary emotions compared to the Black and White violent offenders, and denied fewer human characteristics compared to the White violent offender. Inconsistent with hypotheses, the Black violent offender was denied fewer human characteristics compared to both White offenders. Implications of these results are discussed.