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Here's what neuroscience and psychology have to say about how people humanize and dehumanize one another.
12 July, 2019
- When humans think about other humans versus inanimate objects, that difference can be seen in activated brain regions on fMRI scans.
- Studies reveal that those brain regions don't light up equally when we look at all people – we tend to humanize some people and dehumanize others when we see things like homelessness, drug addiction, different ethnicities or someone in an outgroup.
- On the other hand, humanization can be increased by something seemingly trivial: human touch. Studies show that NBA teams who touch more on the court play better together, and that the touch of a loved one can reduce pain.
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Adam Waytz is an award-winning social psychologist and associate professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He is the first person to receive twice the Theoretical Innovation Prize from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He is also the winner of the SAGE Young Scholar Award and the International Social Cognition Network’s Early Career Award.