SHARKLab is dedicated to the psychological study of human intergroup relations and human-animal relations and led by Dr. Kristof Dhont, based in the School of Psychology at the University of Kent. Our goal is to gain insights into the processes leading to prejudiced and compassionate attitudes and behaviours towards a wide range of social groups, such as ethnic and sexual minority groups, but also non-human animals.
We study both situational and personality factors that drive and sustain intergroup biases such as racism, sexism, and speciesism, with a special interest in social-ideological variables (e.g. social dominance orientation and authoritarianism) and identity-based processes. We also study the characteristics of animal abusers and their offences to better understand offender typologies and associated treatment needs for prevention and intervention efforts. Some of this research involves cross-disciplinary collaborations with veterinary and animal welfare scientists.
Key aims are to investigate and advance our understanding of (1) the common and unique factors underlying different types of intergroup biases; (2) how people perceive and think about animals as a social outgroup (or multiple outgroups), and the implications of attitudes and behaviors towards animals for human intergroup relations; and (3) methods and interventions that effectively reduce intergroup bias and animal abuse offending.