Ability to Dehumanize Immigrants Stems From a Unique Part of the Brain

“High dehumanization and low prejudice is the perfect profile of paternalism,” Emile Bruneau, Ph.D., said in the statement. He explains that Americans who can accept Trump’s zero tolerance policy might not do so out of hatred but because they think doing so is natural; they may feel, he says, that “these children are just less human and less deserving of moral concern.”

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Collectively blaming groups for the actions of individuals can license vicarious retribution. Acts of terrorism by Muslim
extremists against innocents, and the spikes in anti-Muslim hate crimes against innocent Muslims that follow, suggest that
reciprocal bouts of collective blame can spark cycles of violence. How can this cycle be short-circuited? After establishing a
link between collective blame of Muslims and anti-Muslim attitudes and behavior, we used an “interventions tournament” to
identify a successful intervention (among many that failed). The “winning” intervention reduced collective blame of Muslims
by highlighting hypocrisy in the ways individuals collectively blame Muslims—but not other groups (White Americans,
Christians)—for individual group members’ actions. After replicating the effect in an independent sample, we demonstrate
that a novel interactive activity that isolates the psychological mechanism amplifies the effectiveness of the collective blame
hypocrisy intervention and results in downstream reductions in anti-Muslim attitudes and anti-Muslim behavior.