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The consequences of heroization for exploitation.

The hero label has become a pervasive positive stereotype applied to many different groups and occupations, such as nurses, teachers, and members of the military. Although meant to show support, appreciation, and even admiration, we suggest that attaching this label to groups and occupations may actually have problematic consequences. Specifically, we theorize that the hero label may affect beliefs about the internal motivations of these group members that make them more vulnerable to exploitation. These ideas are tested and supported across nine preregistered studies using complementary materials and experimental paradigms. In these studies, we find that: (a) heroization strengthens expectations that teachers, nurses, and military personnel would willingly volunteer for their own exploitation; (b) the hero label and its consequences follow workers even after they transition to a new career (e.g., participants expected a military veteran-relative to a matched nonveteran-to be more willing to volunteer for his own exploitation at his subsequent civilian job, because the veteran was perceived to be more heroic than the matched nonveteran); and (c) occupational heroization-likely because of its impact on beliefs regarding what heroized workers would freely choose to do-reduces opposition to exploitative policies. In short, our studies show that heroization ultimately promotes worse treatment of the very groups that it is meant to venerate. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

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