Self-dehumanization and other-dehumanization toward students with special educational needs [Poster Presentation]

Frank Tian-fang Ye, Kuen Fung Sin, Lan Yang, Xiaozi Gao, Fengzhan Gao

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


Dehumanization, which refers to the process of attributing non-human qualities to individuals or groups, has been found to affect various targets such as ethnic minorities, gender groups, and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups (Haslam et al., 2018). However, there has been little attention paid to students with special education needs (SEN) in inclusive settings. In an ongoing research project in Hong Kong, we conducted a survey study and examined dehumanization and its relationship with psychological well-being and school functioning among 158 secondary students with SEN, their peers (N = 345), parents (N = 274), and teachers (N =141).
The results showed that students with SEN attributed more humanness to themselves compared to their non-SEN peers. However, non-SEN peers attributed significantly more mental capacity to non-SEN others and demonstrated dehumanization towards students with SEN. Additionally, both SEN and non-SEN peers attributed less human uniqueness to SEN peers compared to human nature, which is consistent with the emphasis on human uniqueness in Chinese culture (Haslam & Loughnan, 2014). Students with SEN reported poorer school functioning compared to their non-SEN peers, which was further associated with their self-dehumanization. Self-dehumanization was also found to be associated with discriminative life experiences.
In terms of parental perceptions, the study revealed that parents of children with SEN did not attribute mental capacity to their children differently, while parents of non-SEN children significantly attributed higher mental capacity to their own children compared to children with SEN. However, both groups of parents perceived children with SEN as lacking human uniqueness compared to human nature. Moreover, teachers in the sample showed a similar pattern to parents of non-SEN peers.
The study highlights the presence of dehumanization among students with SEN and its relationship with their psychological well-being and school functioning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2023
EventThe 15th Biennial Conference of Asian Association of Social Psychology - The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 13 Jul 202315 Jul 2023


ConferenceThe 15th Biennial Conference of Asian Association of Social Psychology
Abbreviated titleAASP2023
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
Internet address


  • Dehumanization
  • self-dehumanization
  • SEN
  • Hong Kong
  • mental health


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