In a study that sheds light on the role of dehumanization in mass violence, researchers analyzed Nazi propaganda's dehumanization of Jews leading up to the Holocaust. The linguistic analysis showed that Jews were progressively denied the capacity for fundamentally human mental experiences, potentially leading to a disengagement of moral concern and facilitating violence. However, after the onset of the Holocaust, Jews were attributed a greater capacity for agentic mental states. The results suggest a process of demonization where Jews were portrayed as highly capable of planning and intentionality while possessing a subhuman moral character. These findings provide insight into the temporal dynamics of dehumanization and highlight the need for further empirical research in ecologically valid contexts.
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