Excluded From All Humanity: Animal Metaphors Exacerbate the Consequences of Social Exclusion

Luca Andrighetto, Paolo Riva, Alessandro Gabbiadini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past research suggested that—from the perspective of perpetrators—animal metaphors are a powerful means to reinforce social exclusion and to foster hostile behaviors against the targets of social exclusion. In the current work, we focus on the consequences of this dehumanizing form of social exclusion from the perspective of victims. In two studies, we manipulated the presence of animal metaphors in a variety of contexts of interpersonal social exclusion. Our results showed that when social exclusion is associated with animal metaphors, its consequences are exacerbated. In particular, labelling targets of social exclusion as animals indirectly caused them to display more aggressive tendencies compared with when they are labelled with corresponding offending, but nondehumanizing, attributes. Crucially, this increased aggressiveness was mediated by higher perceptions of being treated (Study 1) or viewed (Study 2) by others as animal-like. Overall, our research showed the detrimental effects of the interplay between social exclusion and animal metaphors from the perspective of victims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-644
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • aggressiveness
  • animal metaphors
  • social exclusion
  • victims

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Excluded From All Humanity: Animal Metaphors Exacerbate the Consequences of Social Exclusion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this