Super-Human or Sub-Human?: Positive Dehumanization and Gender in Public Performance Evaluations

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Dehumanizing language, language that compares human beings to animals or machines, is typically thought of in problematic cases, where it is designed to denigrate individuals or entire groups in society. But, this language can also be used to praise—describing an employee as a machine can be done to signify super-human characteristics. We find that positive dehumanizing language has no effect on evaluations of a public employee’s competence, but do have an effect on evaluations of warmth. Contrary to expectations, we find no differences in these effects based on the gender of the employee.