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Denying humanness to victims: How gang members justify violent behavior

Alleyne, Emma, Fernandes, Isabel, Pritchard, Elizabeth (2014) Denying humanness to victims: How gang members justify violent behavior. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 17 (6). pp. 750-762. ISSN 1368-4302. (doi:10.1177/1368430214536064) (KAR id:48701)

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The high prevalence of violent offending amongst gang-involved youth has been established in the literature. Yet the underlying psychological mechanisms that enable youth to engage in such acts of violence remain unclear. 189 young people were recruited from areas in London, UK, known for their gang activity. We found that gang members, in comparison to non-gang youth, described the groups they belong to as having recognized leaders, specific rules and codes, initiation rituals, and special clothing. Gang members were also more likely than non-gang youth to engage in violent behavior and endorse moral disengagement strategies (i.e., moral justification, euphemistic language, advantageous comparison, displacement of responsibility, attribution of blame, and dehumanization). Finally, we found that dehumanizing victims partially mediated the relationship between gang membership and violent behavior. These findings highlight the effects of groups at the individual level and an underlying psychological mechanism that explains, in part, how gang members engage in violence.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/1368430214536064
Uncontrolled keywords: dehumanization moral disengagement street gangs violent behavior
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Emma Alleyne
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2015 11:19 UTC
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2021 11:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Alleyne, Emma:
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