The Social Psychology of Dehumanizing Attitudes and Behaviors: Theoretical evidence to explain gang stalking and electronic targeted assaults

“From within, the view is extremely restricted and confusing, while from above one discovers a supreme artistry and order.”

This paper explains through a psycho-social lens how individuals can be used as third-party proxies in the phenomenon known as gang stalking and electronic targeted assault. By analyzing the social-cognitive process known as “mechanistic dehumanization” in addition to a possessed form of sadism known as “everyday sadism” as part of a new personality profile known as the “Dark Tetrad.”

The social psychology of dehumanizing attitudes and behaviors towards others is rooted in culturally determined and learned beliefs surrounding another’s individual identity. Some dehumanizing behavior is displayed as disrespect, condescension, and neglect toward others (Christoff, 2014). There are several negative consequences associated with dehumanization and this paper address theoretical social-psychological aspects in research-based evidence of what has been termed everyday sadism and everyday dehumanizations which are contributing to the phenomenon of gang stalking and electronic targeted assaults.

Dehumanization was primarily believed to be part of extreme ethnic or racial intergroup conflict. New research evidence has brought to light this is no longer necessary for dehumanization to occur. Similar to everyday sadism, dehumanization can occur as part of everyday practice based on one’s personality profile (Buckels, Jones, & Paulhus, 2013). That is to say, dehumanization appears to be an everyday social phenomenon rooted in everyday social-cognitive processes of some human beings (Haslam, 2006). Since there are two ways dehumanization can occur, first the denied human characteristics thereby in essence grouping certain individuals with animals, also called “animalistic dehumanization.” The second social-cognitive process is termed “mechanistic dehumanization” in which humans are likened to objects or automata and denied human qualities like warmth, human emotion, and individuality (Haslam, 2006). My personal experiences in dealing with others have found a large portion of evidence in my social environment when opinions deviate from the majority rule and the majority rule is incapable of navigating the difference perceived. As a result, this blocked or diked human relatedness causes a second social-cognitive phenomenon known as “mechanistic dehumanization” and is extensively discussed as being part of the technology of advancing medicine and sexual objectification in which people are perceived as inert and instrumental tools, as a means to an end in advancing one’s goals and interests of their own.

Often perceived as “mild dehumanization” it is often considered an innocent and inconsequential part of behavioral patterns. However, the evidence does not support this ideology of it being an innocent by-product of human interaction. Mild dehumanization that appears subtle, innocent, and inconsequential can range from subtle forms of disrespect, condescension, neglect, social ostracism, and other relational slights. Gangstalking and electronic targeted assaults may be perceived by its perpetrators as a form of innocent, inconsequential, “mild dehumanization” but it goes beyond mild and crosses over to high conflict physical assaults.

Overwhelming evidence tells us dehumanization of others can lead to long-term psychological sequelae (Sheridan, James, & Roth, 2020). Research also tells us dehumanization of others can lead to increased aggressive social behavior such as bullying as well as increased forms of anti-sociality such as hostile avoidance and social rejection. These behaviors are then accompanied by attitudes of reduced human worth by those who are being targeted. They are therefore judged less worthy of protection from harm.

Everyday interpersonal maltreatments can leave its victims feeling degraded, invalidated, or demoralized. There has been extensive research into dehumanization’s negative consequences. When people are mechanistically dehumanized, as when people are gang stalked and electronically targeted with assaults or sexually assaulted and beaten, they are being used as objects or automata, containers for violent aggression and advancing human progress. They can enter into “cognitively deconstructed” states that become emotionally numbing, accompanied by reduced clarity of thought, and cognitive inflexibility, with an absence of meaningful exchange. Experiencing this form of dehumanization leads to pervasive feelings of sadness and anger challenging one’s coping skills. Since one of the goals of dehumanization is “status-reducing” interpersonal maltreatments such as being treated as incompetent, fat, ugly, lower-class, embarrassing, unintelligent, unsophisticated in the goal of degrading another’s image. This in turn can lead to feelings of shame and guilt by those being targeted.

As such, dehumanizing maltreatments eventually lead to one’s detrimental well-being. Psychological well-being requires basic psycho-social needs to be met. These include autonomy, competence, and human relatedness as well as a standard for the continuation of self-care. Dehumanizing maltreatments lead to impaired ability to satisfy individual needs and directly contribute to depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders such as alcohol use disorder. As such, dehumanization maltreatments are not considered “innocent” or “inconsequential” by-products of social interaction as a “social phenomenon” common to human communication. Dehumanization maltreatment poses a real hazard to other’s well-being as well as their cognitive psycho-social development. Dehumanization maltreatment leads to depression. Depression can lead to suicide. It can also lead to anxiety and anxiety can lead to anxiety-related disorders.

Since an aspect to dehumanizing maltreatment is the character trait known as sadism, a research study investigating the phenomenon of what has been termed “everyday sadism” to reveal a new personality configuration termed the “Dark Tetrad” of personality. Originally termed the “Dark Triad” which refers to the personality configuration composed of three character traits found within a specific personality type; Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. The new Dark Tetrad includes four traits instead of three; Machiavellianism, sadism, narcissism, and psychopathy. The researchers conducted a study investigating individual’s willingness to take part in a bug-killing paradigm. Sadists volunteered at greater rates than did non-sadists. In the second study, researchers investigated the willingness of individuals to harm an innocent victim. When aggression was easy, sadism and Dark Triad measures predicted unprovoked aggression. However, only sadists were willing to work for the opportunity to hurt an innocent person. In both studies, sadism emerged as an independent predictor of behavior reflecting an appetite for cruelty. Together, these findings support the construct validity of everyday sadism and its incorporation into a new personality paradigm (Buckels, Jones, & Paulhus, 2013).

“The task thus becomes to track the patterned ways that violence seeks to name as violent that which resists it, and how the violent character of a legal regime is exposed as it forcibly quells dissent, punishes workers who refuse the exploitative terms of contracts, sequesters minorities, imprisons its critics, and expels its potential rivals.”

~Judith Butler, The Force of Nonviolence: An ethico-political bind


Buckels, E., Jones, D., & Paulhus, D. (2013). Behavioral Confirmation of Everyday Sadism. Psychological Science, 24(11), 2201–2209.

Butler, Judith. (2020). The Force of Nonviolence: An ethico-political bind. New York. Verso Publishing.

Christoff, K. (2014). Dehumanization in organizational settings: some scientific and ethical considerations. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8,

Halsam, N. (2006). Dehumanization: an integrative review. Pers. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 10, 252–264. doi: 10.1207/s15327957pspr1003_4

Johnson, L., Plouffe, R., & Saklofske, D. (2019). Subclinical Sadism and the Dark Triad. Journal of Individual Differences, 40(3), 127–133.

Krick, A., Tresp, S., Vatter, M., Ludwig, A., Wihlenda, M., & Rettenberger, M. (2016). The Relationships Between the Dark Triad, the Moral Judgment Level, and the Students’ Disciplinary Choice. Journal of Individual Differences, 37(1), 24–30.

Lyons, M., & Jonason, P. (2015). Dark Triad, Tramps, and Thieves. Journal of Individual Differences, 36(4), 215–220.

Sheridan, L., James, D., & Roth, J. (2020). The Phenomenology of Group Stalking (‘Gang-Stalking’): A Content Analysis of Subjective Experiences. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(7),



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Karen Barna

Karen Barna

I am a Targeted Individual suffering electronic harassment. I write about gender difference and object relations and feminism. I am Gen. X