A developmental study of the infrahumanization hypothesis

John Martin, Mark Bennett, Wayne S. Murray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Intergroup attitudes in children were examined based on Leyen's 'infrahumanization hypothesis'. This suggests that some uniquely human emotions, such as shame and guilt (secondary emotions), are reserved for the in-group, whilst other emotions that are not uniquely human and shared with animals, such as anger and pleasure (primary emotions), are attributed to in- and out-groups alike. The present study explored Scottish 6 to 7 and 10- to 11-year-old children's ability to forecast the intensity and duration of primary and secondary emotions experienced by in- and out-group members. Ratings of primary and secondary emotions forecast for national football teams (Scotland, in-group and England, out-group) for both a loss and a win, immediately after the game and 3 days later were recorded. As predicted by the infrahumanization hypothesis, forecasts for the intensity of secondary emotions experienced by the in-group were significantly greater overall than those of primary emotions; while, for the out-group, the intensity ratings for both emotion types were not significantly different. Importantly, this effect did not differ between age groups. These results demonstrate that even relatively young children discriminate between these types of emotion and provide qualified support for the generality of infrahumanization effects.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)153-161
    Number of pages9
    JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


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