OK, so it’s easy to assume that people who look down on people of different ethnic or racial backgrounds also see humans as superior to animals. But can we prove it? In children, no less?
Well, turns out, we can.
A study conducted byof British Journal of Social Psychology.
But first, let’s define a few terms.
Ingroup means people of the same ethnic or racial group. If you’re white, then your ingroup is other whites.
Outgroup means people of different ethnic or racial groups. If you’re black, then whites are a part of an outgroup.
Dehumanization is a psychological process whereby people view members of an outgroup as less than human and not deserving of moral consideration.
Social Dominance Orientation is a belief that there is hierarchy in humans, with some being higher, or more valuable, than others.
The human/animal divide is a belief that animals are morally inferior to humans. This belief is used by those that exploit animals to justify their actions.
OK, back to the study.
The two-tiered study first set out to look at whether white children dehumanize black children by assigning qualities of animals to that outgroup. Then they would look at those same children’s beliefs in the human-animal divide.
What did the study find?
Children who believed in a definite human–animal divide were more likely to dehumanize photos of black children. The children’s beliefs were related to their parent’s belief in Social Domination Orientation.
Among parents who believed in a distinct human–animal divide, there was also an increased rate of dehumanization, racial prejudice, and Social Domination Orientation.
Change your tune about this kid after watching this video?
HOWEVER, white children who initially dehumanized photos of black children changed their mind after they were shown a video that identified similarities in humans and animals.
The takeaway is that we can be effective in lessening both animal exploitation AND racism by educating children about similarities in animals and humans.
Now to figure out how to make THAT happen.