Beyond dislike: Blatant dehumanization predicts teacher discrimination

School teachers have been shown to favor ethnic majority over minority students. However, it is unclear what psychological processes motivate ethnicity-based discrimination. Of the studies that have examined the psychological roots of teacher discrimination, most have focused on implicit or explicit prejudice. We propose an alternate predictor: dehumanization. Using a within-subject paradigm with a small-scale experiment (N = 29) and a larger scale replication (N = 161), we find that Hungarian preservice teachers consistently discriminate against Roma minority students by recommending that they be denied entry to higher track secondary schools, and preferentially placing them into lower track schools, relative to equally qualified ethnic majority Hungarian students, and that the severity of the ethnic tracking bias is predicted by dehumanization (but not prejudice). In fact, the relationship between dehumanization and discrimination holds (and may be significantly stronger) for teachers who express the lowest levels of prejudice towards the Roma. Read more.

Bruneau, E., Szekeres, H., Kteily, N., Tropp, L. R., & Kende, A. (2019). Beyond dislike: Blatant dehumanization predicts teacher discrimination. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations: GPIR, 1368430219845462.

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.