Motivation to support a desired conclusion versus motivation to avoid an undesirable conclusion: The case of infra-humanization

Stéphanie Demoulin, Jacques Philippe Leyens, Ramón Rodríguez-Torres, Armando Rodríguez-Pérez, Paola Maria Paladino, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Social motivation has been shown to influence various cognitive processes. In the present paper, it is verified that people are motivated to view outgroups as possessing a lesser degree of humanity than the ingroup (Leyens et al., 2000) and that this motivation influences logical processing in the Wason selection task. So far, studies on infrahumanization have been shown to influence attribution of uniquely human characteristics to groups. Most of these studies focused on the attribution of secondary emotions. Results have shown that secondary emotions are preferentially attributed to ingroup members (Leyens et al., 2001). Also, people tend to react differently to ingroup and outgroup members displaying secondary emotions (Gaunt, Leyens, & Sindic, 2004; Vaes, Paladino, Castelli, Leyens, & Giovanazzi, 2003). In the present paper, it is argued that infrahumanization is a twodirection bias and that it does influence logical processing among perceivers. Specifically, infrahumanization motivation impacts logical processing in two different directions. First, most motivation is spent to reach the desirable conclusion that the ingroup is uniquely human. Second, least motivation occurs to support the undesirable conclusion that the outgroup is uniquely human. These hypotheses are tested in four crosscultural studies that varied the status and the conflicting relations between groups. Results were in line with the predictions and further confirmed that infrahumanization biases can be obtained independently of status and conflict (but see Cortes, Demoulin, Leyens, & de Renesse, 2005). The discussion relates these findings with ingroup favouritism and outgroup derogation (Brewer, 1999) and underlines the importance of infrahumanization in counteracting system justification biases (Jost & Banaji, 1994).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-428
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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