Human Interaction,  Humanity,  Mental Health,  Psychology

The Face of Humanity: Configural Face Processing Influences Ascriptions of Humanness. Social Psychological and Personality Science

This article was reviewed by Truphosah Fridah Monah, Counseling Psychologist.  This journal article brings to light the understanding of how the humanness of a human face can have its roots, in part, in low-level, feature-integration processes typical of normal face perception. This is because perceptions of humanness or dehumanization can have perceptual roots. While paying attention on the well-established face inversion paradigm, it shows that disruptions of configural face processing also disrupt the ability of human faces to activate concepts related to humanness. This is likened to a human face that is turned up-side-down. This reduces the levels of humanlike traits and characteristics ascribed to faces. Therefore, it portrays clearly that, dehumanized responses can arise from bottom-up perceptual cues, which suggests novel causes and consequences of dehumanizing responses. When we attach personhood or detach personhood from another human, this is seen to be the most essential act of social cognition.

Attaching humanity is seen to bring others into the moral community by preventing harmful treatment and facilitating fairness and empathy whereas detaching humanity leads to the opposite. In any human society, it is clear that dehumanization can trigger discrimination. When people power of being human is taken away from them, persons are not ascribed the full human range of emotions. This is because the tendency to withhold humanity from others can facilitate intergroup conflict and harmful treatment. Assigning personhood is a motivated, top-down process, with beliefs and motives about the self and others influencing ascriptions of humanness. This has its roots in the perceptual processes employed in normal human face exercise.

It is not a positive feeling for the people who dehumanize the society, the consequences of dehumanization are troubling to the cognitive processes underlying ascribing and withholding personhood of others. This shows how dehumanizing and mind perception works together in human showing how humans are seen as possessing sophisticated capacities that are distinct from other animals that lack emotional responsiveness and experiential capacity that makes humans distinct from objects like machines. The victims of inhuman acts tend to look at those who dehumanize them as being powerful hence lacking the urge to claim their humanness and personhood back.

The author of the article is

Hugenberg K.; Young S.; Rydell R. J.; Almaraz S.; Stanko A. K.; See P. E.; Wilson J. P. (2016). The Face of Humanity: Configural Face Processing Influences Ascriptions of Humanness. Social Psychological and Personality Science 7(2) 167-175 DOI: 10.1177/1948550615609734

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