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Keywords:

  • helping;
  • groups;
  • intergroup relations;
  • disasters;
  • dehumanization;
  • attitudes;
  • empathy

The present research explores the distinct effects of animalistic and mechanistic dehumanization on willingness to help natural disaster victims. We examined Japanese and Haitians, two national groups recently struck by earthquakes. We showed that Italian participants differently dehumanized the two outgroups: Japanese were attributed low human nature (dehumanized as automata), whereas Haitians were attributed low human uniqueness (dehumanized as animal-like). Ninety participants were then randomly assigned to the Japanese or Haitian target group condition. Mediation analyses showed that animalistic dehumanization decreased willingness to help Haitians, whereas mechanistic dehumanization decreased willingness to help Japanese, even when controlling for attitudes. Importantly, reduced empathy explained the effects of both forms of dehumanization on intergroup helping.