What Are Counselors Learning from Social Media? An Analysis of Subtle Bias among Counselors in Training
Polarization among Americans and the spread of ideas that marginalize or other have spread in recent years, likely aided by social media and 24-hour news cycles. As Americans rely on these sources for information, they are exposed to ideologies that limit the humanity of certain groups. Counselors in training are not exempt from this exposure, and although there is significant research that has tracked the spread of dehumanizing beliefs in the U.S. public and internationally, there have been few attempts to do so in the field of counselor education. In the present study, the researcher explored the presence of two recent additions to dehumanization research, infrahumanization and essentialism, among graduate counseling students. The researcher also examined the role of progression in a graduate counseling program in reducing infrahumanization. Findings included the significant role of political preference in predicting infrahumanization of pedophiles, as well as the lower incidence of essentialism and infrahumanization in the present sample when compared to similar studies.