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To deny others' humanity is one of the most heinous forms of intergroup prejudice. Given evidence that perceiving various forms of complexity in outgroup members reduces intergroup prejudice, we investigated across three experiments whether the novel dimension of emotional complexity, or outgroup members' joint experience of mixed-valence emotions, would also reduce their dehumanisation. Experiment 1 found that perceiving fictitious aliens' experience of the same primary emotions (e.g. sadness) presented in mixed vs. non-mixed valence pairs led to reduced prejudice via attenuated dehumanisation, i.e. attribution of uniquely human emotions. Experiment 2 confirmed these results, using an unfamiliar real-world group as an outgroup target. Experiment 3 used a familiar outgroup and found generally similar effects, reducing social distance through reduced dehumanisation. These processes suggest that an alternate route to reduced dehumanising of outgroups might involve presenting mixed valence emotions.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Emot

Publication Date





1018 - 1031


Emotions, dehumanisation, intergroup bias, intergroup relations, social distance