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Psicothema was founded in Asturias (northern Spain) in 1989, and is published jointly by the Psychology Faculty of the University of Oviedo and the Psychological Association of the Principality of Asturias (Colegio Oficial de Psicología del Principado de Asturias).
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Do they feel the same as us? The infrahumanization of individuals with Down syndrome

Verónica Betancor Rodríguez, Eva Ariño Mateo, Armando Rodríguez-Pérez and Naira Delgado Rodríguez

Universidad de La Laguna

Background: Research on infrahumanization shows there is a strong tendency to deprive outgroups of the ability to experience secondary emotions when compared to ingroups. However, it is not known whether this tendency is also applied to social groups towards which ambivalent attitudes are held, such as individuals with Down syndrome. Methods: In the first study, participants were asked to attribute primary and secondary emotions to members of the ingroup (students) and outgroup (individuals with Down syndrome). The second study explored the effect of the physical features of Down syndrome on the differential association of emotions. A lexical decision task preceded by photographs of three face types (adults with Down syndrome, adults with ambiguous faces and adults without Down syndrome) was used for that purpose. Results: The results showed a higher attribution of secondary emotions to members of the ingroup than to members of the outgroup. Also revealed that participants associated secondary emotions with the faces of adults without Down syndrome and with ambiguous faces far more quickly than with faces of individuals with Down syndrome. Conclusions: These results confirm the existence of infrahumanization bias and the effect of visibility of the stigma in this subtle type of prejudice.

¿Sienten como nosotros? La infrahumanización de las personas con síndrome de Down. Antecedentes: las investigaciones sobre infrahumanización muestran que hay una fuerte inclinación a privar a los exogrupos de la capacidad de experimentar emociones secundarias, en comparación con los endogrupos. Sin embargo, desconocemos si esta tendencia se aplica a grupos sociales hacia los que se mantienen actitudes ambivalentes, como las personas con síndrome de Down. Método: en el primer estudio se pidió a los participantes que atribuyeran emociones primarias y secundarias a los miembros del endogrupo (estudiantes) y del exogrupo (personas con síndrome de Down). El segundo estudio exploró el efecto que tenían los rasgos físicos de síndrome de Down en la asociación diferencial de emociones. Se empleó una tarea de decisión léxica precedida por  fotografías de tres tipos de rostros (adultos con síndrome de Down, adultos con caras ambiguas y adultos sin síndrome de Down). Resultados: se produjo una mayor atribución de emociones secundarias a los miembros del endogrupo que del exogrupo. Los participantes asociaron con mayor rapidez emociones secundarias a caras de adultos sin síndrome de Down y a caras ambiguas, en comparación con las caras de personas con síndrome de Down. Conclusiones: estos resultados confirman la existencia del sesgo de infrahumanización y el papel de la visibilidad del estigma.

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