What is it about?

The present research suggests that when ex-perpetrators of violence in a post-conflict society are depicted in the news media using dehumanizing language (e.g., soulless, savage), people attribute them with less human agency, more severe punishments, and perceive them as more socially distant and less suitable for re-socialization.

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Why is it important?

The disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) process of ex-perpetrators in post-conflict societies after a peace deal is a hard process and often ends in recidivism or further sprouts of violence if not carried out properly. A condition for a successful DDR process is that society perceive the former perpetrators as humans capable of recognizing their mistakes and able to reincorporate to society. Our findings highlight how subtle ways of using dehumanizing language in the media can critically hinder this condition.


We hope this article makes general audiences, media outlets, and policy makers think about how the intentional or unintentional use of this kind of language can prevent in a large extent forgiveness and reconciliation after a peace agreement. We conducted this research with the goal of revealing one way in which subtle factors (and efforts to change them) can have a big impact in achieving peace.

Cristhian Martínez
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Dehumanization effects on agency, punishment, and resocialization attributions toward ex-perpetrators in postconflict., Peace and Conflict Journal of Peace Psychology, February 2024, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/pac0000710.
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