Volume 21, Issue 1 p. 51-63
SPECIAL ISSUE
Open DataPreregistered

Metadehumanization erodes democratic norms during the 2020 presidential election

Alexander P. Landry

Corresponding Author

Alexander P. Landry

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Correspondence

Alexander P. Landry, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106–9660, USA.

Email: [email protected]

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Elliott Ihm

Elliott Ihm

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA

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Spencer Kwit

Spencer Kwit

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA

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Jonathan W. Schooler

Jonathan W. Schooler

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA

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First published: 07 June 2021
Citations: 6

This study was preregistered at the Open Science Framework (OSF) prior to data collection (https://osf.io/x549d). All materials, the preregistration manuscript, obtained data, and analyses codes are also available at the OSF storage (https://osf.io/d2g59/).

Abstract

The present research directly replicates past work suggesting that metadehumanization, the perception that another group dehumanizes your own group, erodes Americans’ support for democratic norms. In the days surrounding the 2020 US Presidential Election, American political partisans perceived that their political opponents dehumanized them more than was actually the case. Partisans’ exaggerated metadehumanization inspired reciprocal dehumanization of the other side, which in turn predicted their support for subverting democratic norms to hurt the opposing party. Along with replicating past work demonstrating metadehumanization's corrosive effect on democratic integrity, we also contribute novel insights into this process. We found the most politically engaged partisans held the most exaggerated, and therefore most inaccurate, levels of metadehumanization. Moreover, despite the socially progressive and egalitarian outlook traditionally associated with liberalism, the most liberal Democrats actually expressed the greatest dehumanization of Republicans. This suggests that political ideology can at times be as much an expression of social identity as a reflection of deliberative policy considerations, and demonstrates the need to develop more constructive outlets for social identity maintenance.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

OPEN RESEARCH BADGES

Open DataPreregistered

This article has earned Open Data and Preregistered Research Design badges. Data and the preregistered design and analysis plan are available at https://osf.io/d2g59/ and https://osf.io/x549d.