Warmth and competence in your face! Visual encoding of stereotype content

Roland Imhoff*, Jonas Woelki, Sebastian Henke, Ron Dotsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Previous research suggests that stereotypes about a group's warmth bias our visual representation of group members. Based on the stereotype content model (SCM) the current research explored whether the second big dimension of social perception, competence, is also reflected in visual stereotypes. To test this, participants created typical faces for groups either high in warmth and low in competence (male nursery teachers) or vice versa (managers) in a reverse correlation image classification task, which allows for the visualization of stereotypes without any a priori assumptions about relevant dimensions. In support of the independent encoding of both SCM dimensions hypotheses-blind raters judged the resulting visualizations of nursery teachers as warmer but less competent than the resulting image for managers, even when statistically controlling for judgments on one dimension. People thus seem to use facial cues indicating both relevant dimensions to make sense of social groups in a parsimonious, non-verbal and spontaneous manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article number386
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • stereotypes content model
  • warmth
  • competence
  • reverse correlation
  • faces
  • visual representations
  • MIND


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