chapter  9
20 Pages

Cops and Criminals: The Interplay of Mechanistic and Animalistic Dehumanization in the Criminal Justice System

ByREBECCA C. HETEY, JENNIFER L. EBERHARDT

Scholars have defined and studied dehumanization in many different ways. Some humanities scholars, for example, have focused on language as a building block of dehumanization and have identified metaphors in both ancient and modern languages that pejoratively refer to humans as animals (Spence, 2001). Linguists point out that such metaphors, far more than mere rhetorical flourishes, actually shape thought (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). Sociologists have focused on the collective dynamics of dehumanization and contend that state sponsored race-based ideologies can lead to dehumanization and, ultimately, genocide (Hagan & Rymond-Richmond, 2008). Social psychologists have found that people believe outgroup members are less likely than members of their own group to experience uniquely human emotions such as pride, jealousy, passion, and guilt. These researchers refer to the denial of such secondary emotions as infrahumanization and stress its operation in everyday contexts (Leyens, Demoulin, Vaes, Gaunt, & Paladino, 2007; Leyens et al., 2000, 2001).