Social neuroscience evidence for dehumanised perception

Lasana T. Harris, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Dehumanisation describes perceiving a person as nonhuman in some ways, such as lacking a mind. Social psychology is beginning to understand cognitive and affective causes and mechanismsthe psychological how and why of dehumanisation. Social neuroscience research also can inform these questions. After background on social neural networks and on past dehumanisation research, the article contrasts (a) research on fully humanised person perception, reviewing studies on affective and cognitive factors, specifically mentalising (considering another's mind), with (b) dehumanised perception, proposing neural systems potentially involved. Finally, the conclusion suggests limitations of social neuroscience, future research directions, and real-world consequences of this all-too-human phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-231
Number of pages40
JournalEuropean Review of Social Psychology
StatePublished - Mar 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


  • Dehumanisation
  • Disgust
  • Morality
  • Social neuroscience
  • Stereotype content model (SCM)


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