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Being human implies a particular moral status: having moral value, agency, and responsibility. However, people are not seen as equally human. Across two studies, we examine the consequences that subtle variations in the perceived humanness of actors or groups have for their perceived moral status. Drawing on Haslam's two-dimensional model of humanness and focusing on three ways people may be considered to have moral status – moral patiency (value), agency, or responsibility – we demonstrate that subtly denying humanness to others has implications for whether they are blamed, praised, or considered worthy of moral concern and rehabilitation. Moreover, we show that distinct human characteristics are linked to specific judgments of moral status. This work demonstrates that everyday judgments of moral status are influenced by perceptions of humanness.

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Journal Article

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