Monday, August 22, 2011

Mind:  Strong Social Bonds Promote Health, Belonging — And Torture

It was no surprise when a recent meta-study found people with strong social support networks tend to live longer, healthier lives. As the Mayo Clinic notes on its website, having close, lasting relationships strengthens one's feelings of security, self-worth and sense of belonging.

But there appears to be a dark side to those life-enhancing bonds. Newly published research suggests they may make it more likely you'll view those outside your social group as less than human —and treat them accordingly.

The most tightly knit groups — from military units to athletic teams — may also be the most likely to treat their adversaries as subhuman animals.
Being socially connected not only diminishes the motivation to connect with others, but may also diminish the perceived similarity with more distant others, they add, because social connections delineate those within one's social circle and those outside of it.

In other words, people tend to identify with their fellow group members, meaning they're more likely to perceive outsiders as different. And as earlier research has shown, when people are viewed as dissimilar to ourselves, they are evaluated as less humanlike as well.

For the experiments and more, see Strong Social Bonds Promote Health, Belonging — And Torture by Tom Jacobs, August 9, 2011 at Miller-McCune.

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