Occupational status differences in attributions of uniquely human emotions

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Infrahumanization theory has claimed that groups tend to infrahumanize, and thus denigrate, each other irrespective of group status. However, research on infrahumanization has mainly addressed status in the context of national, ethnic, and regional divisions. The present studies tested the effect of group status in infrahumanization by employing occupational groups of varied status, both in abstract (blue-collar vs. white-collar workers) and specific terms (lawyers vs. shopkeepers, and high school teachers vs. university faculty members and primary school teachers). The results showed that only relatively higher status groups always attributed uniquely human emotions more to their in-group than to lower status out-groups. In contrast, lower status groups showed no bias in attributions of uniquely human emotions, or were biased in favour of the higher status out-group. The discussion of these results points to the role of consensus in the distribution of social value amongst groups of asymmetric status.

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