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Infrahumanization:The Effects of Uniquely Human and Non-Uniquely Human Emotions on Justice


This project will examine the role of infra-humanization and group membership in administration of justice for violation of moral rules. Justice theory distinguishes certain criteria, such as intentionality of the harm-doer, that are considered for the restoration of justice. Intentional harms require both compensation in favor of the victim and punishment of the harm-doer. Two different kinds of punishment have been detected; retributive, is a proportionate to the harm punishment (a more lenient and emotionally oriented punishment), while utilitarian, is a more severe punishment (harsh and rationally oriented) than the harm displayed. Emotions of the perceiver (i.e. the person who ascribes the sentence) are considered as the most significant predictor of imposition of sanctions to the harm-doer. No study to date, however, has explored the role that emotions with different social value (i.e. uniquely human; UH vs. non-uniquely human; NUH) attributed to the victim might play in justice. According to the infra-humanization theory, UH emotions are highly valued compared to NUH ones, as they differentiate humans from animals. People attribute UH emotions mostly to the ingroup rather than outgroup, while such a bias does not occur regarding NUH emotions.This project will test people’s moral judgments depending on whether negative UH or NUH emotions are attributed to the ingroup or outgroup victim. We hypothesized that a) sanctions to the harm-doer (compensation in favor of the victim and punishment) will be imposed mostly when negative UH emotions are caused to an ingroup victim, and b) a utilitarian rather than retributive punishment will be assigned to the harm-doer for causing negative UH emotions to the ingroup victim. No such bias will occur regarding NUH emotions. c) Kind of emotions (UH vs. NUH) attributed to the victim, group membership of the victim and justice outcome will interact affecting belief in a just world and well-being of participants.

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Place De L Universite 1
1348 Louvain La Neuve
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 169 800
Administrative Contact
Stéphanie Demoulin (Prof.)