Infrahumanization or familiarity? Attribution of uniquely human emotions to the self, the ingroup, and the outgroup

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2005 Feb;31(2):243-53. doi: 10.1177/0146167204271421.


People attribute more secondary emotions to their ingroup than to outgroups. This effect is interpreted in terms of infrahumanization theory. Familiarity also could explain this differential attribution because secondary emotions are thought to be less visible and intense than primary ones. This alternative explanation to infrahumanization was tested in three studies. In Study 1, participants attributed, in a between-participants design, primary and secondary emotions to themselves, to their ingroup, or to an outgroup. In Study 2, participants answered for themselves and their ingroup or for themselves and an outgroup. In Study 3, participants made attributions to the ingroup or a series of outgroups varying in terms of familiarity. The data do not support an explanation in terms of familiarity. The discussion centers on conditions not conducting to infrahumanization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humanism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Psychology*
  • Social Behavior