A Hobo, a Bimbo, and an Orphan Walk into a Bar

An Examination of Victim Dehumanization and Reactions to Consent Violations

  • Kate Rozendaal MacEwan University


Dehumanization involves failing to acknowledge that another person has the full suite of emotions, cognitions and capabilities associated with being human. Recent work has described two distinct types or dimensions: mechanistic and animalistic (Haslam, 2006; Haslam & Loughnan, 2014). Mechanistic dehumanization involves denying someone characteristics of human nature such as emotionality and interpersonal warmth, and a tendency to perceive them as cold, rigid and lacking in animation, much like automata. Animalistic dehumanization involves perceiving someone as devoid of uniquely human characteristics such as civility and higher cognition, and a tendency to view them as coarse, unintelligent and immoral, much like animals. Dehumanization on either dimension has consequences for our ability to see others as victims, and to experience moral outrage at their victimization (Gray, Gray & Wegner, 2007; Bastian et al., 2011). Our project will examine whether dehumanization of female victims on either dimension influences our assessment of the wrongness of male consent violations and deserved punishment. Participants will read scenarios of heterosexual encounters containing consent violations by a male. The female will be varied between subjects to reflect a profile that encourages humanization or dehumanization on one or both dimensions. Participants’ moral outrage at the male as well as the severity of punishment deserved will be assessed. We expect dehumanization along either dimension will attenuate both measures. However, mechanistically dehumanized females are regarded as cognitively capable, and thus more blame-worthy and less deserving of protection. Those victim scenarios may experience more attenuated levels of outrage and punishment.

Discipline: Psychology (Honours)

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Aimee Skye