Human, or Less than Human?

Our early studies helped to clarify the composition of these two senses of humanness. Human Uniqueness attributes tend to revolve around refinement, civility, and rationality. These attributes are seen as arising relatively late in development because they are products of socialization and learning. They represent ways in which humans transcend animality through reason and culture. Human Nature attributes, in contrast, tend to involve warmth, emotion, openness, and desire. Unlike Human Uniqueness traits, these attributes are seen as early-emerging, as widespread within the population, and as cross-culturally universal; they constitute our ‘shared humanity’. (Although Human Nature overlaps semantically with Warmth, and Human Uniqueness with Competence, it should be clear from these descriptions that our dimensions are not reducible to those important dimensions of social judgment; see Abdollahi & Fiske, 2008 .) Human Nature traits are also seen as deep-seated, essence-like properties; they are fundamental or defining attributes of the person who possesses them. Rather than representing how humans transcend nature, Human Nature characteristics reflect the innate, intrinsic, and embodied aspects of humanness. However, Human Uniqueness and Human Nature are not opposites. Some attributes may be seen as unique to humans and part of our nature (e.g., imagination), some as unique to humans but not part of our nature (e.g., politeness), some as parts of human nature but not uniquely human (e.g., curiosity), and some as neither (e.g., timidity).

In short, our work on everyday conceptions of humanness suggests that there are two distinct ways in which humanness can be ascribed to entities, and two corresponding ways in which it can be denied to them, each linked to a contrastive type of nonhuman. We have found support for these links in a variety of studies. For example, people seen as lacking Human Uniqueness attributes are implicitly associated with animals and those lacking Human Nature attributes are implicitly associated with robots (Loughnan & Haslam, 2007). Similarly, across three cultures Human Uniqueness attributes distinguished humans from animals whereas Human Nature attributes distinguished humans from robots (Haslam et al., 2008). Recent research by Wegner and colleagues on "mind perception" (Gray, Gray & Wegner, 2007) reveals two very similar dimensions: a dimension of " agency" (i.e., rationality, self-control, morality) distinguishes humans from animals, whereas a dimension of "experience" (e.g., emotion, desire) distinguishes humans from robots and inanimate entities.

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