Warmth and Competence in Animals

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DOI: 10.1111/jasp.12361
Cite this publication
Abstract
Social-perception dimensions may explain human-animal relationships because animals show intent toward humans (social perception’s warmth dimension) and, consequently, their potential effect on humans is relevant (competence dimension). After reviewing current literature about perceptions of animals’ ascribed intentions and abilities, three studies tested the Stereotype Content Model (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002) and the Behaviors from Intergroup Affect and Stereotypes Map (Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2007) regarding animal targets. Study 1 found a four-cluster SCM structure. Warmth and competence judgments predicted specific emotions and behavioral tendencies toward animals (Study 2). Study 3 supported associations between animals and social groups based on their respective perceived warmth and competence. Taken together, results showed the relevance of SCM dimensions for social perception of animals.
Social perception of animals 1
RUNNING HEAD: Social Perception of Animals
Warmth and Competence in Animals
Verónica Sevillano
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Susan T. Fiske
Princeton University
[In press, Journal of Applied Social Psychology]
Abstract: 126 words
Text, references: 9628 words
Tables: 9
Figures: 2
Author Note
Verónica Sevillano, Department of Social Psychology and Methodology, Universidad
Autónoma de Madrid; Susan T. Fiske, Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School
of Public Affairs, Princeton University.
Our thanks for support from the Fulbright Program, the Spanish Ministry of Science and
Innovation, and the Russell Sage Foundation.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Verónica Sevillano,
Department of Methodology and Social Psychology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid
(Spain), 28049. E-mail address: veronica.sevillano@uam.es
Social perception of animals 2
Abstract
Social-perception dimensions may explain human-animal relationships because animals show
intent toward humans (social perception’s warmth dimension) and, consequently, their potential
effect on humans is relevant (competence dimension). After reviewing current literature about
perceptions of animals’ ascribed intentions and abilities, three studies tested the Stereotype
Content Model (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002) and the Behaviors from Intergroup Affect and
Stereotypes Map (Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2007) regarding animal targets. Study 1 found a four-
cluster SCM structure. Warmth and competence judgments predicted specific emotions and
behavioral tendencies toward animals (Study 2). Study 3 supported associations between animals
and social groups based on their respective perceived warmth and competence. Taken together,
results showed the relevance of SCM dimensions for social perception of animals.
Keywords: stereotype content, animals, warmth, competence, social groups
Social perception of animals 3
Human beings are traditionally studied targets of social perception (Kwan & Fiske,
2008). However, recent interest in the boundaries of social cognition identifies differential
attributing of mind to animals, humans, robots, and God (Gray, Gray, & Wegner, 2007),
dehumanizing animalized individuals (Demoulin et al., 2004; Haslam & Loughnan, 2014), and
anthropomorphizing humanized animals and gadgets (Epley, Waytz, & Cacioppo, 2007).
Animals thus become relevant targets of study (Sevillano & Fiske, 2015).
People and animals as social cognitive targets might be perceived either as evoking some
fundamentally similar processes, or altogether different principles might apply. This article
explores the way people characterize specific animals, using as its conceptual anchor the way
people describe human groups: the Stereotype Content Model (SCM; Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, &
Xu, 2002) and stereotypes’ emotional and behavioral implications, using the Behaviors from
Intergroup Affect and Stereotypes Map (BIAS map; Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2007). First, this
article explores the way people characterize specific animals, based on the way people describe
other humans, after reviewing previous literature that indicates the plausibility of applying the
Warmth and Competence dimensions to animal targets.
Second, emotions and behaviors implied by different animal stereotypes are identified
and consequently, a comprehensive map of emotional and behavioral reactions of humans to
animals is presented. Third, the applicability of Warmth and Competence to animals should
facilitate identifying associative relations among animals and human targets (i.e., social groups)
similarly perceived in Warmth and Competence.
Testing the SCM and BIAS Map applicability for animals is important because social-
perception dimensions may contribute to explaining human-animal relationships.
Social perception of animals 4
Stereotype Content Model for Animals?
The SCM (Fiske et al., 2002) proposes a theoretical framework integrating two basic and
apparently universal dimensions of social perception, namely Warmthperceived intent (What
is the goal, good or bad, of another person/group?) and Competenceability and general
capacity (What resources, abilities, and power does a person/group have at their disposal to
achieve their goal?). The joint consideration of both dimensions implies a four-quadrant space
mapping the relative positions of the different social groups.
Stereotyped groups in the high-warmth/high-competence quadrant are reference groups
(in-group and allied groupse.g., the middle class).
Stereotyped groups in the low-warmth/low-competence quadrant are groups seen as
having no positive function in society (e.g., homeless people).
Groups placed in the high-warmth/low-competence and low-warmth/high-competence
quadrants receive ambivalent stereotypes revealing both positive and negative beliefs
about them: groups perceived as pursuing a unthreatening goal but with no capacity to
attain it in the former case (e.g., older people).
And groups pursuing a threatening goal plus the capacity to attain it in the latter case
(e.g., rich people).
This functionalistic approach may also be relevant in the context of animals (Kwan &
Cuddy, 2008) to the extent that intention (warmth) and ability (competence) are also important
variables for human-animal interactions (Knight, Vrij, Bard, & Brandon, 2009; Rajecki,
Rasmussen, & Conner, 2007). Animals assist, explore, attack, or ignore humans. As a result, the
identification of animals’ intentions has implications for the way humans interact with them: To
be aware of an imminent attack by an animal would imply defensive or avoidant behavior toward
Social perception of animals 5
it. But animals also present diverse capacities to carry out their intentions (e.g., intelligence,
abilities, natural weapons).
In short, human social-perception dimensions may also explain human-animal
relationships, with distinct reactions to distinct kinds of animals: Aggressive or friendly
tendencies might reflect perceived intent (warmth); cognitive abilities (intelligence) and
extraordinary sensory-physical abilities (e.g., strength, speed) might reflect perceived capacity
(competence). The next section reviews current literature about perceptions of animals ascribed
intentions and abilities.
Animal Stereotypes: Intention and Competence in Animal Perception
Animals seem to suffer from inequality (Arluke & Sanders, 1996). Whereas some are
accepted (e.g., dogs), others are rejected (e.g., rats). Intermediate positions include those useful
as food, but uninteresting, without special sensory and physical abilities (e.g., cows); and those
interesting, with extraordinary physical attributes, but fearsome (e.g., lions). Consider each in
turn.
Subordination stereotype: Farm animals, rabbits, and birds. Farm animals (pigs, cows)
and other animals such as rabbits or birds are perceived as lacking physical or cognitive abilities
(Bastian, Loughnan, Haslam, & Radke, 2012; Eddy, Gallup, & Povinelli, 1993; Herzog &
Galvin, 1992; Knight et al., 2009; Kwan & Cuddy, 2008). Caged animals are perceived as tame
and passive compared to wild animals (Finlay, James, & Maple, 1988), and this view of animals
may portray a disrespectful image of animals (Coe, 1985; Hutchins, Hancoks, & Crockett, 1984,
cited in Finlay et al., 1988; Maple, 1983; Sommer, 1972). Caging reinforces the per se tame
tendencies of farm animals, so they are perceived as showing inoffensive intentions toward
humans. These beliefs (low intelligence, inoffensive tendencies) may conform to an ambivalent
Social perception of animals 6
subordination stereotype toward those animals because it mixes positive and negative beliefs.
Hypothetically, these animals will be perceived as high-warmth (positive intention) and low-
competence (inferior intelligence and abilities).
Threatening-awe stereotype: Wolves, lions, bears, and coyotes. Certain prototypical
carnivorous animals (lions, wolves, bears) are seen as aggressive (e.g., wolves as recreational
killers) and highly intelligent (Eddy et al., 1993; Kellert, 1985; Kellert, Black, Rush, & Bath,
1996; Skogen, 2001). Some characteristics of these animals are a source of awe (e.g., beauty;
Kellert et al., 1996). These beliefs (intelligence and aggressive tendencies) may conform to a
threatening-awe stereotype that is ambivalent. Consequently, these animals should be perceived
as low-warmth/high-competence targets.
Contemptible stereotype: Invertebrates, rodents, and reptiles. Invertebrates (insects,
spiders, cockroaches, crabs), mice, rats, and reptiles (lizards, snakes) are attributed low cognitive
(Eddy et al., 1993; Herzog & Galvin, 1992; Knight et al., 2009) and affective capacities (Herzog
& Galvin, 1992; Kellert, 1993). Some are common phobic stimuli (snakes; Ohman & Mineka,
2003) and carriers of illness (bubonic plague through rats), so these animals are perceived as a
threat to humans for their harmful characteristics. These beliefs (low intelligence and harmful
tendencies) may conform to a contemptible stereotype: low-warmth/low-competence.
Protective stereotype: Dogs, cats, horses, chimpanzees, and monkeys. Cultural
representations of nonhuman animals in literature portray dogs and horses as especially friendly
and competent (“dog is man’s best friend”; the Houyhnhnms, noble horses showing great
benevolence and intelligence in the novel Gulliver’s Travels) and protectors of humans (Oswald,
1995). Dogs, cats, horses, and chimpanzees are perceived as similar to humans in cognitive
(Eddy et al., 1993; Herzog & Galvin, 1992) and experiential capacities (e.g., fear, pain; Gray et
Social perception of animals 7
al., 2007; Knight et al., 2009). Some of these animals perform important work for humans
(therapeutic and police use; Bachi, Terkel, & Teichman, 2012) and are considered companion
animals (Belk, 1996; Franklin, 2007; Hickrod & Smith, 1982), all of which provides a positive
image. These beliefs (intelligence and friendliness) may constitute a protective stereotype high-
warmth/high-competence.
Overview
The different images and beliefs regarding animals just reviewed show differential
attributions of intentions and competence to animals, making it plausible to test the SCM in
animals. First, animal names were obtained through several instructions, as in human SCM
research, to avoid sampling bias (Pilot Study 1); frequently mentioned animals were then rated
on warmth and competence dimensions and characterized through cluster analysis, in order to
explore animal groupings (Study 1); with the aim of establishing the link between how people
perceive animals in terms of warmth and competence and people’s associated emotions and
behaviors, Pilot Study 2 first collected emotions and behaviors regarding animals through open-
and closed-ended questions, and then, Study 2 assessed a comprehensive list of emotional and
behavioral reactions of humans to animals. Study 3 tested the associations among various animal
and human social groups, based on warmth and competence.
Pilot Study 1: Selecting Relevant Animal Targets
Method
Participants. American adults (N = 178; age M = 35.9 years; 66.3% female) were
recruited from mTurk and received standard compensation.
Questionnaire and procedure. Participants completed an online, open-ended
questionnaire. With the aim of obtaining a nonbiased list of animals, three types of instructions
Social perception of animals 8
were developed, covering different classes of animals (zoo animals, animal categories, animal
functions) and one instruction simply asked for a list of animals. The four instructions were: 1)
List animals’ names; 2) List animals that have typically been in regular zoos; 3) List the major
animal categories belonging to the animal world; 4) List the major categories of animals based
on their function for humans. All the instructions encouraged participants to list animal names
that come easily to mind and emphasized that we were not asking for any particular species,
class or type of animal, but we wanted to know the most common ones that people think of first.
Below the instruction, the space was left blank, to avoid suggesting that we expected a particular
quantity of responses. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four instructions requesting
them to list animal names (see Table 1).
Results and Discussion
The mentioned numbers of distinct animal names varied across instructions: Instruction 1
= 127 names; Instruction 2 = 76 names; Instruction 3 = 64 names; and Instruction 4 = 40 names.
In order to compare the instructions, we focused on the animal names mentioned by at least 15%
of participants in each instruction (3-6 participants out of 19-50 per condition).
The instruction to list animals’ names (Instruction 1) ultimately provided 25 animal
exemplars, including animals from different environments (farm, zoo, domestic). The instruction
asking to list animals in zoos (Instruction 2) limited the range of animals to exotic ones. Asking
for animal categories (Instruction 3) produced biological groups in which individuals organize
animals. Finally, participants asked to list animals with functions for humans (Instruction 4)
produced two types of responses, exemplars of animals (cow, horse) and functions of animals in
society (e.g., pets, food, transportation, labor force); see Table 1.
Social perception of animals 9
Taking into account these results, the following studies used the 25 animal names
obtained by listing animal names as they come to mind (Instruction 1), which offered the
opportunity to test the SCM with a sufficiently large number of different animal targets.
Study 1: Characterizing Animals in Warmth and Competence
Using the 25 animals of interest, a new sample rated them on SCM Warmth and
Competence Scales.
Method
Participants. Americans (N = 135; age M = 36.4 years; 60% female) were recruited
through mTurk for compensation. Participants working with animals either professionally or
academically were excluded (N = 35). Ethnicities were: 83.8% White, 5.1% Asian, 5.1%
Hispanic, 5.1% African American, and 0.7% unspecified.
Questionnaire and procedure. The questionnaire named 25 animals, which participants
rated on scrambled SCM scales (Fiske et al., 2002) reflecting warmth (warm, well-intentioned,
friendly) and competence (competent, skillful, intelligent), according to how the animals are
viewed by society, using 9-point Likert scales, ranging from 1 (not at all) to 9 (extremely). To
allow the possibility that warmth and competence adjectives were unsuitable to animals, a does
not apply option appeared. Participants received written debriefing. To avoid fatigue, the sample
was split, each half rating 12-13 animals. Mean completion time was 7.79 min.
Results
The Warmth and Competence Scale adjectives elicited a negligible number of does not
apply responses (< 9%, mostly for fish), indicating the appropriateness of the scales. Alpha
reliabilities were high for both the Warmth (α=.83) and the Competence Scales (α=.87).
Social perception of animals 10
Cluster analysis tested the utility of the warmth and competence dimensions to describe
animals. Differences in warmth and competence ratings for each animal tested the frequency of
mixed combinations.
Warmth and competence for animal stereotypes. For each animal, ratings were
averaged across participants, so means provide competence and warmth scores for each animal.
The 25 animals are arrayed on a two-dimensional Competence X Warmth space (Figure 1).
As in previous SCM methods (Fiske et al., 2002), two types of cluster analyses examined
the structure of this two-dimensional space. Following Hair, Anderson, Tatham and Black
(1995), hierarchical cluster analyses (Ward’s 1963 method, minimizing within-cluster variance)
determined the best-fitting number of clusters. Agglomeration statistics, using typical decision
rules (see Blashfield & Aldenderfer, 1988), showed that the last large change occurred in the
break between Clusters 3 and 4, so we adopted a four-cluster solution.
Next, k-means cluster analysis (parallel-threshold method) determined which animals fell
into each cluster. Association of animals to clusters remained stable across solutions (Table 2).
Low-warmth/high-competence “predators”: tiger, bear, whale, leopard, lion
High-warmth/high competence “companions”: dog, monkey, elephant, horse, cat
High-warmth/low-competence “prey”: duck, cow, rabbit, hamster, zebra, giraffe,
bird, pig
Low-warmth/low-competence “pests”: lizard, rat, chicken, snake, mouse,
hippopotamus, fish
Mixed animal stereotypes. The SCM predicts many mixed stereotypes toward social groups
(Fiske et al., 2002). Mixed or ambivalent stereotypes are those formed by negative and positive
beliefs. If SCM describes animals, mixed stereotypes should also emerge. In order to test mixed
Social perception of animals 11
stereotypes: First, differential attributions of warmth and competence ratings between clusters
were analyzed through ANOVAs. Mixed clusters should be higher than other clusters on one
dimension but lower than other clusters on the other dimension. Secondly, within clusters,
matched-pair t-tests compared warmth and competence ratings for each cluster. Mixed clusters
should be higher on warmth than on competence or vice versa.
First, comparison of the cluster-center means (Table 3) overall confirmed SCM
predictions that mixed and univalent stereotypes differed appropriately on each dimension
[Warmth: F(3, 21) = 38.787, p < .00001; Competence: F(3, 21) = 40.868, p < .00001]1. Post hoc
analyses showed that the “companions” cluster, with the highest competence and warmth ratings
(M = 7.38 and M = 6.91, respectively), differed significantly from the two clusters low in
competence (M = 3.84 and 4.38, respectively, p < .001) and from all the other clusters in warmth
(M = 3.11 to M = 5.0, p < .001). We predicted that the “companions” cluster would obtain the
same, high degree of warmth and competence. Matched-pair t-tests revealed no significant
differences between the scores of this cluster center in competence and warmth, t(4) = 1.45, p =
.222, thus equating them as both high. Standard deviations for post hoc analyses are included in
Table 3.
The “predators” cluster obtained high competence ratings (M = 6.37), which significantly
differed from two clusters low in competence (M = 3.84 and 4.38, respectively, p < .001). We
predicted that the “predator” cluster would obtain higher competence than warmth, and matched-
1The results may be affected by lack of familiarity or uncommonness of certain animals. Uncommon animals may
be inappropriately described by warmth and competence dimensions. For this reason, the analyses were also run
controlling for uncommonness of the animals. Uncommonness, as a covariate, was not significant for competence [F
(1, 19) = 1.04), p = 0.321] or warmth ratings [F (1, 19) = 3.00, p = 0.099], meaning that competence and warmth
ratings for clusters were not affected by uncommonness ratings. We also correlated competence and warmth ratings
with uncommonness ratings. Although none of the correlations were significant, uncommonness of animals was
positively correlated with competence (r = .24) and negatively correlated with warmth (r = -.33). Thus, uncommon
animals were perceived as low in warmth.
Social perception of animals 12
pair t-tests confirmed that the scores of this cluster center were significantly higher in
competence (M = 6.37) than in warmth (M = 3.14, t(4) = 9.55, p < .001).
The “prey” cluster showed the second highest rating on warmth (M = 5.0), significantly
different from all other clusters (M = 3.11 to M = 6.91, p < .001), higher than two clusters that
were low on warmth, but lower than the other cluster high on warmth (i.e., the high-high cluster).
Hence, its warmth would be distinctly moderate. The score of the cluster center on competence
was significantly different from all other clusters except for the lowest cluster-center score in
competence, so it clearly ranks as low competence. We predicted that the “prey” cluster would
obtain a higher degree of warmth than competence. Although pointing in this direction,
differences between its center scores on warmth (M = 5.0) and competence (M = 4.38) were not
significant, t(7) = -1.58, p = .159. On one of two statistical criteria (moderate warmth and low
competence relative to other clusters), this cluster was essentially ambivalent, as predicted.
Finally, the “pests” cluster rated lowest both in competence (M = 3.84) and warmth (M =
3.11), differing significantly, as expected, from two other clusters high in competence (M = 6.37,
7.38, p < .001) and warmth (M = 5.0, 6.91, p < .001). We predicted that the “pests” cluster would
obtain the same, low degree of warmth and competence. As expected, no differences were
obtained between competence and warmth, t(6) =1.59, p = .163.
Within clusters, matched-pair t-tests compared competence and warmth ratings for each
animal. Competence and warmth ratings differed significantly for 19 of the 25 animals (Table 4).
Thirteen, including all five predators, were rated as significantly more competent than warm
(highest to lowest difference): tiger, lion, leopard, bear, rat, snake, whale, monkey, elephant,
hippopotamus, bird, lizard, and zebra. Unexpectedly, two low-low animals, rat and snake, were
rated as more competent than warm.
Social perception of animals 13
Six, including five of the eight prey, were rated as being significantly more warm than
competent (highest to lowest difference): hamster, rabbit, cow, chicken, duck, and dog (though
dog was similarly high in competence (M = 8.07) and warmth (M = 8.31).
Finally, competence and warmth ratings did not differ for two high-high animals (cat,
horse) and two low-low animals (mouse, fish), as predicted by their cluster membership.
Discussion
Support for the applicability of SCM to animals came from perceived competence and
warmth as differentiating animals in cluster analyses; four stable clusters consistently accounted
for all of the animals across solutions. A “predators” cluster (tiger, bear) was found according to
a threatening-awe stereotype: animals low in warmth and high in competence. A “companions”
cluster (dog, horse) was observed in line with a protective stereotype: warm and competent
animals. A “prey” cluster (cow, duck) emerged, agreeing with a subordination stereotype: warm
and incompetent animals. And finally, a “pests” cluster (lizard, rat) was found in line with a
contemptible stereotype: animals low both in warmth and competence.
As with humans, many mixed stereotypeslow competence with high warmth or vice
versaappeared in three analyses: (1) Cluster centers rated significantly higher on warmth than
on competence or vice versa. (2) Half of the studied animals fell into mixed clusters if the
moderate-warmth/low-competence cluster is considered as an ambivalent cluster, given the
observed tendency. (3) Matched-pair t-tests indicated that the same animals mostly showed
mixed stereotypes (9 of 13).
Differences between animals in warmth and competence were not reducible to other
possible dimensions, such as animals’ diet (herbivores vs. carnivores), humans’ diet (edible vs.
inedible animals), or size (big vs. small) because there are examples of all these categories in
Social perception of animals 14
every quadrant of the space. Moreover, the model applied to animal targets was a priori
comparable to social groups. This will be explored further in Study 3.
The animal clusters roughly fit previous research: Henley (1969), using MDS, found
these groups: [prey] cow, pig, rabbit, zebra, and giraffe; [pest] mouse and rat; [companion] dog,
monkey, and cat; and [predator] bear, lion, tiger, and leopard. We found the same groups using
SCM scales. Likewise, the results of Kwan and Cuddy (2008) are similar.
Differentiating animal competence also fits Eddy et al.’s (1993) and Knight et al.’s
(2009) lists of animals ordered by cognitive abilities.
Although current analyses yielded the predicted four-cluster solution, the high-
warmth/low-competence combination showed only moderate warmth, mainly due to certain
animals (zebra, bird, giraffe, pig). This cluster comprised different types of animals: farm (cow,
rabbit, duck) and nonfarm animals (giraffe, bird, zebra), which differed on warmth ratings.
Whereas farm animals were rated significantly higher in warmth than in competence (see Table
4), nonfarm animals did not differ, leading to a lower cluster center in Warmth. Tentatively,
nonfarm animals could be seen as elusive and distant (unfriendly) toward humans. Thus, this
cluster may be termed moderate-warm/low-competence animals.
Turning to the rating dimensions, the Warmth and Competence dimensions may not be
equally easy to ascribe to animals (a result also found with human beings, see Fiske et al., 2002).
Here, compared to competence ratings, warmth ratings were generally lower. Several
explanations may account for these lower ratings. Inferring intentions to animals may be more
difficult than deciding about their intelligence and ability because of the differential availability
of warmth and competence information (for example, through mass media, documentaries, etc.).
But also, the warmth dimension may be seen as more human-specific (friendliness,
Social perception of animals 15
intentionality) than the competence dimension. Supporting this, companion animals the closest
animals to human beings received higher ratings in warmth than other animals.
Given the plausibility of SCM applied to animals, we then addressed emotions and behavior by
adapting the BIAS map to animals. The next sections introduce the BIAS Map, and Study 2 tests
a BIAS map version with animals, using the lists of emotions and behaviors reported in pilot
studies.
BIAS Map Adapted for Animals
Different SCM positions held by social groups imply different associated emotions (Fiske
at al., 2002): admiration (for warm, competent targets), contempt (for cold, incompetent targets),
pity (for warm, incompetent targets), and envy (for cold, competent targets). Jointly considering
several variables, Cuddy et al. (2007) differentiated types of discriminatory behavior as a
function of stereotypes and intergroup emotions. The types of discriminatory tendencies
represent two degrees of intensity (active-passive) across valence (facilitative-harmful). Active
and passive behavior definitions take into account the degree of effort put into the behavior itself
(strong, direct or weak, indirect). Facilitative and harmful behaviors are defined according to the
outcome (favorable or detrimental to the target).
The BIAS map links particular emotions and behaviors directed toward target groups:
admiration elicits active and passive facilitation (help, association); contempt elicits active and
passive harm (attack, neglect); pity elicits active facilitation, but passive harm (help, but also
neglect); envy elicits passive facilitation, but active harm (association, but also attack).
Whereas comparison processes (Smith, 2000) and outcome attributions (Weiner, 1985)
are key variables predicting the BIAS map, the intergroup relationships between animals and
Social perception of animals 16
humans (Plous, 2003) required adapting these processes to animals. Societal and biological
factors account for the differences between the human and the animal BIAS map: (a) Humans
dominate animals through control, use, and management (including eating them); and (b) social
perception identifies biological interspecies differences in cognitive and emotional capacities.
Hypothetically, both factors suggest certain idiosyncratic comparisons between humans and
specific animals. As all animals hold a dominated societal position, lower than humans, and they
appear less cognitively sophisticated (large interspecies differences), strictly speaking, humans
would establish downward comparisons with all of them. This would restrict the possible
emotions to only downward emotions (e.g., resentment; Smith, 2000). However, although all
dominated, some animals are less unequal than others, holding superior status over other
animals, due to perceived similarity to humans (pets, horse) or due to exceptional physical
attributes (lion, bear). This privileged status may make such animals targets of upward-
comparison emotions (e.g., admiration).
On the other hand, following attribution theory, applied to animals, implies replacing its
human psychological variables of ability and effort with animals’ more physical attributes and
skills as perceived causes of behavior (Weiner, 1985) because the latter match the less
sophisticated outcomes pursued by animals: survival.
Consequently, we expected upward and downward emotions directed toward specific
animal clusters, as predicted by SCM, but the emotions elicited by allegedly inferior nonhuman
beings will be more basic (positive and negative) and hostile than those ascribed to humans.
Humans’ Animal Stereotypes Human Emotions Human Behaviors toward Animals
Low-warmth/high-competence → Awe→ Passive help, active harm. Animals
belonging to the low-warmth/high-competence cluster are judged as untrustworthy and
Social perception of animals 17
aggressive, but skillful, and with exceptional sensory and physical capacities. These animals
(e.g., lions) elicit ambivalent feelings in humans. On the one hand, fear should be the most
common emotion because culture emphasizes their aggressive tendencies (Skogen, 2001). On the
other hand, experiences of fascination and awe relate to such animals (Curtin, 2009). In emotion
research, appraisals of threat, beauty, and exceptional abilities predict awe (Darwin, 1872/2009;
Keltner & Haidt, 2003). Likewise, a sense of overcoming the limits of ordinary experience
triggers awe (Van der Berg & Ter Heijne, 2005). Both nature and animals promote feelings of
awe, terror, anxiety, fear, and apprehension (Koole & Van der Berg, 2005; Korpela, Hartig,
Kaiser, & Furher, 2001).
Following the interpersonal social comparison theory (Smith, 2000), admiration and
inspirationupward, assimilative affects target those who perform extraordinary actions.
Low-warmth/high-competence animals’ outstanding performance does not imply contrastive
comparisons because their speed and strength are rarely relevant to modern humans. Perhaps
impressive animals also reflect the wonder of nature that permits humans, as part of nature, to
assimilate it, basking in their excellence (Curtin, 2009; Vining, 2003).
Although people (e.g., hunters, farmers) could feel envy or resentment (upward
contrastive emotions) toward these animals, as for comparable social groups, animal-envy seems
unlikely because social comparison processes apply to a lesser extent between humans and
animals: Animals’ positive outcomes rarely deprive humans. Accordingly, we hypothesized that
humans will experience awe and fear toward these animals. This quadrant receives passive
facilitation but active harm (Cuddy et al., 2007); that is, these animals are managed and
preserved but also hunted and killed.
Social perception of animals 18
Low-warmth/low-competence→ Contempt→ Passive harm, active harm. Through
downward, contrastive comparison, contempt marks inferior, worthless beings (Smith, 2000).
Reviled animals apparently lack special abilities (low competence) but also intend to harm or
exploit human beings (low warmth). Snakes and rats fit this stereotype, apparently having low
cognitive capacities (Eddy et al., 1993) and being disgusting (Haidt, McCauley, & Rozin, 1993).
Worthless to humans and even nonhumans, extermination is permitted. Disgust also relates to
their niche (Bixler & Floyd, 1997). This quadrant receives active and passive harm (alternately
killed or ignored; Cuddy et al., 2007).
High-warmth/low-competence →Indifference→ Passive harm, active help. This
cluster includes farm animals and other unskilled but friendly animals. Some are part of human
diets, so they are both nurtured and killed. Humans accept harm to animals through neutral
language, physical remoteness, and legitimizing advertisements, which conceal suffering,
prevent empathy, and promote indifference (Lerner & Kalof, 1999; Plous, 2003). Consequently,
we rarely anthropomorphize them (Lerner & Kalof, 1999).
Their subordinate place suggests downward contrastive emotions, such as contempt
(Smith, 2000) but, because they fulfill a function for humans, we must limit our distain to
indifference. This quadrant receives active facilitation and passive harm (they are protected or
ignored) (Cuddy et al., 2007).
High-warmth/high-competence→ Fondness→ Passive and active help. Due to their
similarity and closeness to us, pets and animals such as, horses, and chimpanzeeswarm
(Oswald, 1995) and competent (Eddy et al., 1993)elicit tender feelings. Animals belonging to
this cluster also have a privileged status among humans, compared to other animals: They live
with humans and are considered the closest species (Eddy et al., 1993; Plous, 2003). According
Social perception of animals 19
to Smith (2000), similarity and high status lead to delight (upward assimilative emotion). This
quadrant receives both active and passive facilitation (helped or managed; Cuddy et al., 2007).
Pilot Study 2: Behaviors and Emotions toward Animals
Two preliminary studies developed scales for these emotions and behavioral tendencies.
Method
Participants and procedure. Two on-line preliminary studies identified specific
emotions and behaviors toward animals. The first used two open-ended questions regarding each
of the 25 animals identified in Pilot Study 1. American participants (N = 26; age M = 34.3, 18
females), recruited through mTurk for compensation, not professionally involved with animals2
wrote what they would feel when they encounter them; and how do American people generally
behave toward them in their typical habitats, when they encounter them. To avoid fatigue, two
questionnaire versions were administrated each showing 12 and 13 animals, respectively.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of the versions.
Pilot Study 2 used 25 emotions and 37 behaviors (Tables 6 and 7) collected from a wide
range of sources (Cuddy et al., 2007; Finlay et al., 1988; Kellert & Berry, 1980; animal-related
web pages: specific zoos, Association of Zoos and Aquaria). These emotions and behaviors
matched the active and passive help-harm dimensions. American participants (N = 277; age M =
34.8, 65.1% female) not professionally involved with animals rated approximately 3-4 emotions
and 4-5 behaviors for 12-13 animals (25 in total), in 16 survey versions (91-109 ratings each)
using the previous instruction.
Results
2 Participants working on farms, at zoos, or in veterinary hospitals were excluded from pilot studies (N = 7 and N =
85, respectively).
Social perception of animals 20
Responses to the open-ended questions and ratings about emotions and behaviors (see
Table 5 and 6) were organized according to the animal clusters of Study 1, an appropriate
approach because specific clusters are hypothesized to evoke specific emotions and behaviors:
moderate-warmth/low-competence cluster (e.g., cow, duck): listed emotions
included peacefulness, happiness, boredom, indifference; listed behaviors were
ignore and behave indifferently. The highest rated associated emotion was
neutrality (M = 6.27); all other clusters obtained lower ratings (all M’s < 5.29).
The highest rated behavior was eat (M = 4.73); lower ratings were obtained in all
other clusters (1.54-3.71).
low-warmth/low-competence cluster (e.g., snake, lizard): listed emotions were
disgust, repulsion, terror, scared, annoyance, unease, boredom; behaviors were
run away, kill, behave violently, chase, catch. Disgust and contempt showed the
highest ratings (5.19 and 3.62, respectively; on all other clusters, their ratings
were lower: 1.89-2.97 for both emotions). The highest rated behaviors were
exterminate, demean, trap, persecute, reject, harm, kill, poison, attack, and injure
(4.30-6.59). Lower ratings were obtained in all other clusters (see Table 6).
high-warmth/high-competence cluster (e.g., horse, dog): listed emotions were
happiness, fondness, love, calm, relaxation, be thrilled; behaviors were care,
behave friendly. These animals elicited the highest ratings for the emotions of
delight, attraction, pleasure, and tenderness (5.98-6.78); all other clusters were
lower (2.71-5.27). The highest rated behaviors were assist, integrate, coexist,
coordinate, help, and interact (4.95-6.26); all other clusters were lower (see Table
6).
Social perception of animals 21
low-warmth/high-competence cluster (e.g., tiger, bear): Listed emotions were
amazement, awe, wonder, worry, fear, scared, awestruck; behaviors were back
away, poach, behave violently. Ratings were higher for awe, interest, amazement,
fear, fascination, wonder, terror, worry, and threat (7.26-7.92); all other clusters
were lower (1.96-5.33). The highest rated behaviors were avoid and shoot (M =
7.28, 3.49); other clusters were lower (3.02-5.13 and 2.10-2.76, respectively).
Discussion
Two sets of measures (open and closed) converged. Armed with reasonable emotion and
behavior items from the pilot studies, Study 2 systematically established some emotions and
behavioral tendencies that define human-animal relationships. We applied three criteria to select
the emotions and behaviors mainly associated with specific clusters: 1) the selected emotions
(behaviors) were those that had the highest mean for one cluster in comparison to the other
clusters (between clusters); 2) regarding a specific cluster, the selected emotions (behaviors)
were those that had the highest mean in comparison to other emotions (behaviors), within the
cluster; and 3) the selected emotions (behaviors) were those for which the difference between the
highest rating in one cluster and the other three ratings was sufficiently large (between clusters).
Seventeen emotions and seventeen behaviors were selected to adapt the BIAS map (Cuddy et al.,
2007) to animals.
Study 2: BIAS Map for Animals
Method
Social perception of animals 22
Participants. Americans (N = 220; age M = 34, 66.8% females) not professionally
involved with animals3 participated on-line through mTurk for compensation. Ethnicities were:
81.8% White, 9.1% Asian, 3.2% Hispanic, 7.3% African American, and 1.4% Native American,
and 0.5% other. Participants randomly received one of eight questionnaires to rate animals on
elicited emotions and behaviors.
Questionnaire and procedure. Using the same 9-point scales, participants rated the
same 25 animals as Study 1 on 17 emotion and 17 behavior items: attraction, fondness,
tenderness, delight, contempt, disgust, repulsion, uneasiness, threat, amazement, awe, fear,
terror, neutral, boredom, comfort, indifference, sustain, support, help, behave friendly, interact,
coexist, manage, monitor, conserve, kill, injure, exterminate, trap, hunt, let them die off, ignore,
and reject. Participants read the same instructions as in Pilot Study 2. A does-not-apply option
appeared both for emotions and behaviors. Splitting the animal list in half to prevent fatigue
yielded eight randomly assigned versions (4-5 emotions, 4-5 behaviors each).
Results
Emotions. Twenty-five factor analyses (one for each animal), using varimax rotation,
were conducted on 17 emotions, yielding 5-7 factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0. Across
animals, four factors emerged consistently: fondness (attracted, fond, tender, delight; α = .97),
3 Participants working on farms, at zoos or in veterinary hospitals were excluded from Study 2 (N = 72).
Social perception of animals 23
contempt (contempt, disgust, repulsed, uneasy; α = .88)4, awe (threatened, amazed, awe, afraid,
terror; α = .93), and indifference (neutral, bored, comfortable, indifferent; α = .92)5.
Emotions within animal clusters. Contrast analyses (3:1) tested predicted emotions
within clusters. Low-warmth/high-competence animals elicited more awe (M = 7.35) than other
emotions (M = 3.26), F(1, 4) = 49.50, p = .002, η2p = .85. High-warmth/high-competence
animals elicited more fondness (M = 6.31) than other emotions (M = 3.58), F(1, 4) = 18.67, p =
.01, η2p = .61. Moderate-warmth/low-competence animals elicited more indifference (M = 5.11)
than other emotions (M = 3.55), F(1, 7) = 9.57, p = .02, η2p = .64. Low-warmth/low-competence
animals elicited more contempt (M = 5.08) than any other emotion (M = 3.55) although not
significantly, F(1, 6) = 2.07, p = .20, η2p = .19 (Table 7).
Emotions between clusters. Contrast analyses (3:1) compared the four clusters on each
emotion. Most contempt was ascribed to low-warmth/low-competence animals (M = 5.08) versus
others (M = 2.75), F(1, 21) = 12.92, p = .002. Awe was higher for low-warmth/high-competence
animals (M = 7.35) than for others (M = 3.54), F(1, 21) = 26.47, p < .0001. Indifference
characterized moderate-warmth/low-competence animals (M = 5.11) more than others (M =
3.47), F(1, 21) = 9.88, p = .005. Fondness corresponded to high-warmth/high-competence
animals (M = 6.31), versus other animals (M = 4.15), F(1, 21) = 15.72, p = .001.
4 Although contempt is used as the label of the scale, as previous SCM research stated, disgust and contempt are the
pair of emotions used for the low competence-low warmth cluster. They are empirically and conceptually related,
though not identical, like envy/jealousy, pride/admiration, and pity/sympathy.
5 Alphas computed across animals (N = 25). Across participants responses (N between 486 and 619) alphas were:
Fondness (α = .71), Contempt (α = .69), Awe (α = .86), and Indifference (α = .68).
Social perception of animals 24
Behaviors. Twenty-five principal component factor analyses (one for each animal), using
direct oblimin rotation, were conducted on 17 behaviors, yielding 6-7 factors. Across animals,
four factors emerged consistently: active facilitation (support, help, behave friendly, interact; α =
.93), active harm (kill, injure, exterminate, trap, reject; α = .93), passive facilitation (sustain,
conserve; α = .80), passive harm (let them die off, ignore; α = .74). Four items were dropped
because they did not load consistently on any given factor (coexist, manage, monitor, hunt).
Active behaviors for warmth, facilitation behaviors for competence. As the warmth
dimension is more important to the perception of others (see Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2008),
active behaviors relate to it. Correspondingly, the competence dimension relates to the less
salient, more passive behaviors. Each dimension’s positive pole predicts facilitative behaviors,
and each dimension’s negative pole predicts harmful behaviors. Animals perceived as warmer
and friendlier received more active and facilitative behaviors than animals perceived as
unfriendly, t(23) = -3.99, p = .001. Animals perceived as lacking warmth received more active
harm than those perceived as warm, t(14.99) = 2.99, p = .009 (Table 8).
Also as predicted, competent animals received more passive facilitation than low
competence animals, t(18.10) = -4.21, p = .001. Compared with high-competence animals,
behaviors associated with low-competence animals were passive harm behaviors: ignore, t(23) =
3.48, p = .002, and let them die off, t(18.17) = 4.65, p < .001 (Table 8).
Emotions Behavioral tendencies. Different emotions should predict different
behavioral tendencies. We correlated emotions and behavioral tendencies at two levels. At the
animal level, we averaged ratings across participants for each of the 25 animals and then
calculated the emotion-behavior correlations from the animal means. At the participant level, we
Social perception of animals 25
calculated correlations separately for each individual participant (N = 220), converted them with
Fisher’s r to z-scores and averaged them, and reverted them to rs.
As expected, both active and passive facilitation were elicited by animals toward which
humans feel fond (Table 9). Animals for which humans feel contempt elicited both active and
passive harm (let them die off). Ignore (passive harm) was significant at the participant level, and
the correlations were negative. Although unpredicted, a negative relationship might take into
account that some of the highly disgusting animals (mouse, rat) represent a threat. Amazing
animals elicited passive facilitation but also active harm, although only at the participant level.
Finally, animals for which humans feel indifference elicited active facilitation and passive harm
(let them die off, ignore), although let them die off reached significance only at the participant
level (Table 9). To summarize, results supported all ten of the predicted emotion-behavior
relationships at the participant level and seven out of ten at the animal level.
Discussion
Study 2 applied the BIAS map to animals. The adapted BIAS map straightforwardly
accounts for human-animal relations, and the large number of salient animals supports their
generalizability.
Animal warmth-competence clusters elicited specific emotions and behavioral
tendencies. Moderate-warmth/low-competence animals elicited indifference, passive harm, and
active help. Low-warmth/high-competence animals elicited awe, active harm, and passive help.
High-warmth/high-competence animals elicited fondness and both active and passive help.
Lastly, low-warmth/low-competence animals elicited contempt and both passive and active
harm. These findings further support warmth/competence dimensions for animal targets, an
interspecies validation of the SCM.
Social perception of animals 26
Differences between animal and human BIAS Maps. The main difference between
social groups and animals involved high (moderate)-warmth/low-competence targets. Whereas
pity and compassion related to high-warmth/low-competence human targets, they did not for
comparable animals. The utilitarian relationship between animals and human beings (transport,
food) limits the possible emotions toward animals. Feeling compassion or pity toward certain
animals (e.g., cow, duck) may be blocked because these emotions challenge cultural customs
(e.g., carnivorous diet). Indeed, pity did not differentiate between clusters (Pilot Study 2). In this
regard, social distance (Plous, 2003) implies neutral feelings toward animals (Paul, 1996).
Emotions toward high-warmth/high-competence and low-warmth/high-competence
animals (fondness and awe, respectively) parallel human targets (admiration and envy,
respectively). Indeed, as Pilot Study 2 showed, admiration and envy fit both high-warmth/high-
competence and low-warmth/high-competence animals, respectively, as the BIAS map predicts,
although not uniquely. Admiration and envy are sophisticated emotions in both outcome quality
(prestige, status) and dependence (one person’s positive outcomes deprive another person).
However, fondness and awe are more basic emotions, not driven by status concerns and not by
being dependent on each other. Nevertheless, fondness preserves the positive tone of admiration
(for high-warmth/high-competence targets), and awe (awe, threat) preserves the ambivalent tone
and the outstanding performance implied by envy (for low-warmth/high-competence targets).
Because the SCM and BIAS Map seem to be satisfactory models of both animal and
human perception, Study 3 explored associations between animal and human targets, based on
Warmth and Competence dimensions. We predicted that both dimensions will be relevant to
associations among animals and social groups.
Study 3: Associations among Animals and Social Groups
Social perception of animals 27
Method
Participants. The sample included 31 Spanish Psychology students (age M = 20.1 years;
77.4% female; 100% White) who voluntarily completed an online questionnaire for extra credit.
Questionnaire and procedure. The study was introduced as a videogame design study
carried out by several colleges. The questionnaire named 12 animals (high-warmth/low-
competence: rabbit, cow, duck; high-warmth/high-competence: dog, horse, elephant; low-
warmth/high-competence: lion, tiger, bear; and low-warmth/low-competence: lizard, snake, rat)
and 12 social groups (high-warmth/low-competence: elderly, children, disabled; high-
warmth/high-competence: Catholics, students, adults; low-warmth/high-competence: Chinese,
businessmen, rich people; and low-warmth/low-competence: Moroccans, immigrants, poor
people). These animals and groups are expected to belong to the four SCM clusters, based on
Studies 1 (animals) and previous research on social groups (Durante et al., 2013).
Participants had to associate animals and groups with each other. The following
instructions were given:
Among the new videogame initiatives, there is a proposal about a social simulation game
of social groups and animals. The videogame will have two virtual worlds: one of them
will show animals, and the other will show social groups but both worlds will be
comparable because of the logic in the rules of the videogame (same characters’
characteristics, goals, and actions). In one of the worlds, the social world, the videogame
will show a society in which different social groups would be composed of animals
instead of people. In one of the worlds, the natural world, the videogame will show a
natural world in which different animals would be represented by social groups […]
Match each animal with a social group regarding common characteristics that you think
Social perception of animals 28
they have. We are not asking for them to be matched based on physical similarity. We are
asking for an animal to be selected that best represents a social group and a social group
that best represents an animal.
After the task, participants received written debriefing.
Results
Animal and social groups were designated as high or low in Warmth and Competence
following previous studies’ findings. Contingency table analyses were run for Competence and
Warmth independently. High-competence animals were associated more frequently with high-
competence social groups (χ2 = 7.84, p = .005, φ = .15), and high-warmth animals were also
associated more frequently with high-warmth social groups (χ2= 9.04, p =.003, φ = .16). The
same was true for low-competence and low-warmth targets (standardized residuals were equal or
higher than +/-2.0 in all cells). See Figure 2.
Discussion
Presenting animals and social groups and requesting that they be associated with each
other based on common characteristics showed the utility of Competence and Warmth as
underlying dimensions. Animals or social group targets perceived similarly in terms of warmth
and competence were more frequently matched with each other. Conversely, animals or social
groups perceived differently in terms of warmth and competence were less likely to be matched
with each other.
Moreover, the magnitude of the effect was similar for Warmth and Competence
dimensions (φ = .15-.16), showing no advantage of any dimension when making the
associations. Indeed, both dimensions were relevant for making the judgments.
General Discussion
Social perception of animals 29
The SCM states that perceived intent and capacity to carry it out guide the way
individuals perceive each other. The present research showed that individuals also partly
perceive animals by using such principles. Pre-existing social perception dimensions, such as the
SCM dimensions, may help to organize knowledge of animals functionally, providing
similarities between human and animal targets, as shown in Study 3.
Within SCM and BIAS map frameworks, warmth and competence dimensions of social
perception and associated emotions and behaviors built this animal-focused research. Animals
have intent towards us, resembling SCM’s warmth dimension, and they have capabilities,
determining how much they affect us (e.g., intelligence, size, strength), resembling SCM’s
competence dimension. SCM’s applicability to animals (Study 1) agrees with previous research
(Eddy et al., 1993; Henley, 1969; Knight et al., 2009; Kwan & Cuddy, 2008).
Emotional correlates of animal stereotypes appeared in Study 2: indifference, fondness,
contempt, and awe. Finally, the predicted BIAS map behavioral correlatesalong the active-
passive and harmful-facilitative dimensionswere overall supported (Study 2). Moderate-
warmth/low-competence prey animals elicited indifference, passive harm, and active help. Low-
warmth/high-competence predator animals elicited awe, active harm, and passive help. High-
warmth/high-competence pet animals elicited fondness and both active and passive help. Lastly,
low-warmth/low-competence pest animals elicited contempt and both passive and active harm.
The SCM and BIAS map applied to animals revealed some different specific emotions for the
high-warmth/low-competence and low-warmth/high-competence clusters. Whereas
stereotypically friendly and incapable humans elicit pity, comparable animals elicit a less
positive emotion, indifference (at least in Study 3). Perhaps humans lack social responsibility
toward high-warmth/low-competence animalswe eat some. Also, stereotypically unfriendly and
Social perception of animals 30
capable humans elicit envy, whereas comparable animals elicit a more positive emotion, awe.
Humans lack outcome dependency for low-warmth/high-competence animals, so perhaps their
performance does not undermine ours.
Animal targets also qualify SCM/BIAS-map behavioral tendencies. People associate with
high-competence humans, whereas we conserve competent animals (both are passive
facilitation); each tendency shows respect, but in different ways. However, we attack low-
warmth humans, whereas we go further with animals, killing them (both are active harm); each
tendency combats enemies. These differences in the behavioral tendencies toward animals show
the differential power that animals and humans hold: Humans can cage an animal, either to
watch it or decide its death.
Ultimately, the less privileged social position of animals as a collective compared to
humans may explain differences in emotions and behaviors toward them. The human-animal
relationship is conceptually similar to the intergroup image termed dependent by Alexander,
Brewer, and Hermann (1999). The dependent image is generated when the in-group (humans) is
stronger and has higher cultural status than the out-group (animals). This image can lead to
exploitation and control over the out-group.
Unlike the SCM space for humans, the expected high-warm/low-competence animals
were only moderate in warmth. A close look at warmth ratings of specific animals in this cluster
reveals evident differences among them. Whereas cow, rabbit, and hamster scored 5.42-5.76,
bird, giraffe, zebra, pig, and duck scored a nonoverlapping 4.57-4.83. Such animals’ allegedly
friendly behavior toward humans may explain the differences in warmth ratings.
Building on previous research, the number of animal targets studied was large,
reinforcing the results obtained. However, it is worth noting the nature of the targets used.
Social perception of animals 31
Contrary to social groups, animals belong to different species. This may make it more difficult to
account for all animals using the same dimensions.
Definitions of competence and warmth regarding animals were made respectively in
terms of physical-intellectual capacity and friendliness tendencies. However, as warmth
judgments may be triggered by physical warmth (Inagaki & Eisenberger, 2013; Williams &
Bargh, 2008), certain animal characteristics may lead to inferring warmth: being furry, warm-
blooded, cuddly, or human-like an assertion to be tested in future research.
Anthropomorphism research also is informative regarding our results. Certain animals,
generally those in the “companion” cluster, are easily targets of anthropomorphism (for example,
pets). Pet owners may anthropomorphize their pets according to a sociability motive need for
social connections, and also to an effectance motive the need for interacting effectively with
nonhuman agents (Epley, Akalis, Waytz, & Cacioppo, 2008; Epley, Waytz, Akalis, & Cacioppo,
2008; Waytz et al., 2010). Accordingly, these animals would allegedly show high warmth and
competence because they are, at least in part, anthropomorphized.
The applicability of the SCM and BIAS Map models to animals may provide insights
about dehumanization processes (e.g., animalization). For example, animalization of specific
social groups could be driven by the animals associated with them in terms of the common SCM
cluster that they share. This animalization may have both positive (understudied) consequences
when a positive animal’s characteristic is salient— and negative (frequently studied)
consequences for social groups.
The stereotype framework adopted to account for perception of animals in this research is
partially coherent with personality frameworks proposed for human beings and corporate brands.
For example, the Big Five personality dimensions, a model developed for measuring individuals’
Social perception of animals 32
personality traits, can be organized into two super-factors: personal growth and socialization
(Digman, 1997; see also Blackburn, Renwick, Donnelly, & Logan, 2004), coinciding with
SCM’s competence and warmth dimensions. In the context of brands, five brand personality
dimensions have been proposed (Aaker, 1997) and among them, sincerity and competence are
clearly similar to SCM’s warmth and competence dimensions, which have also been applied to
brands (Kervyn, Fiske, & Malone, 2012).
Our results are potentially practical. Traditionally, attitudes toward animals and
environmental beliefs have explained how individuals treat animals. Attitudes toward the
extinction of animal species are arguably related to social perception of animals. For example,
the negative image of hyenas in the U.S. (Glickman, 1995) makes them a perfect target for
aggressive human practices. Recently, the image of wolves in the U.S. has suffered the same fate
(Downes, 2013). Stereotyped labels (e.g., carnivorous) placed upon specific animals may have
dramatic consequences for these nonhuman beings lacking human privileged status, for example,
ferocious lions and wolves ready to attack. The current approach points out that the perceived
characteristics of warmth and competence may be relevant to explain differential behaviors
aimed at animals, an affirmation that should nonetheless be tested in future research.
SCM could explain metaphorical relationships between specific animals and social
groups, as uncovered in previous research. Advertising, mascots, and propaganda all ascribe
specific animals to brands, products, teams, politicians, groups, and celebrities. Such practices
may benefit from applying the SCM approach. Instead of focusing on the cultural meanings
embodied by animals (Phillips, 1996), warmth and competence dimensions may help to evaluate
the plausibility of an animal-object association in people´s mind, and also to modify the social
image of an object using a specific animal.
Social perception of animals 33
Although our analysis is limited to warmth and competence dimensions, other
characteristics such as size, not explored herein, are of unquestionable importance in the animal
domain (e.g., Henley, 1969; Rips, Shoben, & Smith, 1973).
Conclusion
Despite many publications about animals and human-animal relationships, few
frameworks coincide. The SCM, a framework developed for human targets, helps to account for
people’s perceptions of and response to animals. The rationale behind this finding is that
animals are also social beings, although not human, which makes the universal dimensions of
social judgmentwarmth, and competencerelevant although not necessarily the only ones.
Previous research has validated the SCM at the interpersonal and intergroup levels (Fiske et al.,
2002; Judd, Hawkins, Yzerbyt, & Kashima, 2005; Russell & Fiske, 2008). This research shows
evidence of validation at the interspecies level.
Social perception of animals 34
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Social perception of animals 41
Figure 1
Four-cluster solution, Study 1
Tiger
Bear
whale
Lion
Leopard
Duck
Cow
Hamster
Zebra
Giraffe
Bird
Pig
Dog
Monkey
Elephant
Horse
Cat
Hippo
Lizard
Rat
Chicken
Snake
Mouse
Fish
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Competence
Warmth
Social perception of animals 42
Figure 2
Associations (%) among animals and social groups based on Warmth (above) and Competence
(below) Dimensions, Study 3
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Low animals
High animals
%
Warmth
Low social groups
High social groups
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Low animals
High animals
%
Competence
Low social groups
High social groups
Social perception of animals 43
Table 1
Percentage of Mentioned Animals’ Names by Instruction (Pilot Study 1, N =178)
Instruction 1:
List animals’
names
Instruction 2:
List animals that have
typically been in
regular zoos
Instruction 3:
List the major animal
categories belonging
to the animal world
Instruction 4:
List the major categories of
animals based on their
function for humans
Dog
92%
Lion
83%
Mammal
74%
Dog
95%
Cat
87%
Tiger
79%
Reptile
64%
Cat
84%
Lion
56%
Elephant
72%
Bird
58%
Cow
47%
Tiger
56%
Giraffe
70%
Fish
54%
Horse
37%
Elephant
51%
Bear
66%
Insect
38%
Pig
26%
Monkey
41%
Monkey
66%
Amphibian
36%
Bear
26%
Horse
41%
Gorilla
43%
Dog
20%
Deer
21%
Bear
33%
Zebra
38%
Cat
20%
Monkey
21%
Bird
33%
Snake
36%
Sheep
21%
Snake
33%
Penguin
30%
Rat
16%
Giraffe
31%
Polar Bear
23%
Cow
28%
Seal
23%
Zebra
28%
Hippo
21%
Hamster
28%
Chimpanzee
15%
Mouse
28%
Rhino
15%
Fish
25%
Rabbit
25%
Pig
20%
Rat
20%
Hippo
18%
Lizard
17%
Duck
15%
Chicken
15%
Whale
15%
Leopard
15%
Note. This shows labels mentioned by at least 15% of participants. Participants mentioned on average 13.5, 9.9, 5.3, and 6.8 animal names in
Instructions 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four instructions requesting them to list animal names.
Social perception of animals 44
Table 2
Group Clusters in Two-, Three- and Four-Cluster Solutions, Study 1
Animals
Clusters
2
3
4
Leopard
1
1
1
Lion
1
1
1
Tiger
1
1
1
Bear
1
1
1
Cat
2
2
2
Monkey
2
2
2
Elephant
2
2
2
Horse
2
2
2
Dog
2
2
2
Whale
1
3
3
Duck
1
3
3
Cow
1
3
3
Zebra
1
3
3
Bird
1
3
3
Pig
1
3
3
Hamster
1
3
3
Giraffe
1
3
3
Rabbit
1
3
3
Hippopotamus
1
3
4
Mouse
1
3
4
Fish
1
3
4
Lizard
1
3
4
Rat
1
3
4
Chicken
1
3
4
Snake
1
3
4
Social perception of animals 45
Table 3
Competence and Warmth Means for each Animal Cluster, Study 1
Animal
Cluster
Competence
Warmth
Dog, Monkey, Elephant, Horse, Cat
2
7.38 (0.56)b
=
6.91 (0.99)b
Tiger, Bear, Whale, Leopard, Lion
1
6.37 (0.38)b
>
3.14 (0.52)c
Duck, Cow, Rabbit, Hamster, Zebra, Giraffe, Bird, Pig
3
4.38 (0.69)a
=
5.00 (0.49)a
Hippopotamus, Lizard, Rat, Chicken, Snake, Mouse, Fish
4
3.84 (0.73)a
=
3.11 (0.71)c
Note. Within each row, within each Study, means differ (p < .05) if > is indicated. Within each
column, within each study, means that do not share a subscript differ (p < .05). Standard
deviations appear in parenthesis.
Social perception of animals 46
Table 4
Mean Paired Differences (Competence - Warmth) for Study 1
Competence
Warmth
t
Tiger
6.64 (1.69)
2.74 (1.43)
3.900***
Lion
6.76 (1.68)
3.08 (1.50)
3.682***
Leopard
6.53 (1.62)
3.11 (1.51)
3.413***
Bear
5.94 (1.75)
2.77 (1.51)
3.172***
Rat
4.78 (2.28)
2.53 (1.52)
2.251***
Snake
4.13 (1.85)
1.91 (1.12)
2.221***
Whale
5.98 (1.71)
4.01 (1.67)
2.022***
Monkey
7.80 (1.43)
6.49 (1.44)
1.316***
Elephant
6.74 (1.56)
5.60 (1.67)
1.142***
Hippopotamus
4.38 (1.55)
3.51 (1.62)
0.861***
Bird
5.34 (1.62)
4.57 (1.54)
0.774***
Lizard
3.78 (1.89)
3.11 (1.59)
0.669***
Zebra
5.21 (1.65)
4.62 (1.72)
0.587***
Mouse
4.06 (1.66)
3.55 (1.64)
0.505
Cat
7.37 (1.06)
7.20 (1.20)
0.169
Pig
4.76 (1.81)
4.69 (1.65)
0.065
Giraffe
4.54 (1.58)
4.58 (1.62)
-0.040
Horse
6.92 (1.45)
6.99 (1.50)
-0.068
Dog
8.07 (.93)
8.31 (.91)
-0.243*
Fish
2.71 (1.31)
3.08 (1.72)
-0.346
Duck
3.94 (1.58)
4.83 (1.71)
-0.896***
Chicken
3.05 (1.63)
4.06 (1.78)
-1.017***
Cow
3.81 (1.68)
5.42 (2.03)
-1.607***
Rabbit
3.98 (1.45)
5.76 (1.61)
-1.781***
Hamster
3.47 (1.41)
5.55 (1.64)
-2.077***
Note. Standard deviations appear in parenthesis. * p < .05 *** p < .001
Social perception of animals 47
Table 5
Mean Ratings for Emotions Related to Clusters. Pilot Study 2
Clusters
Low warmth
High Warmth
Low
competence
High
Competence
Low
competence
High
competence
Awe
3.35 (1.65)
7.75 (1.54)
3.76 (1.13)
4.39 (2.15)
Interest
3.77 (1.57)
7.76 (1.42)
4.21 (1.18)
5.33 (1.85)
Amazement
3.49 (1.54)
7.27 (1.94)
3.64 (1.34)
4.09 (1.85)
Fear
4.49 (1.28)
7.48 (1.32)
2.13 (1.29)
3.69 (1.56)
Fascination
3.65 (1.76)
7.43 (1.56)
4.42 (1.01)
5.03 (1.65)
Wonder
3.32 (1.54)
7.26 (1.47)
3.83 (1.05)
4.06 (2.00)
Terror
4.12 (1.28)
7.51 (1.10)
1.96 (0.97)
2.92 (1.10)
Worry
4.18 (1.63)
7.51 (1.64)
2.10 (0.90)
3.39 (1.37)
Threat
4.69 (1.65)
7.92 (0.91)
2.65 (1.32)
3.95 (1.16)
Delight
2.91 (1.10)
4.27 (2.22)
4.94 (1.71)
6.05 (1.50)
Attraction
3.26 (1.36)
5.14 (2.19)
4.52 (2.15)
6.32 (1.86)
Pleasure
2.98 (1.32)
4.99 (2.68)
4.62 (1.91)
5.98 (2.23)
Tenderness
2.71 (1.21)
4.07 (2.39)
5.27 (1.39)
6.78 (2.00)
Disgust
5.19 (1.82)
2.82 (1.88)
2.93 (1.61)
2.39 (1.37)
Contempt
3.62 (1.84)
2.97 (2.46)
2.25 (1.54)
1.89 (1.47)
Neutral
5.14 (1.99)
4.08 (2.78)
6.27 (1.74)
5.29 (2.25)
Hate
4.89 (1.78)
4.39 (2.39)
2.37 (1.32)
2.49 (1.68)
Unpleasantness
5.35 (1.29)
4.94 (2.62)
3.06 (1.84)
2.54 (1.34)
Admiration
3.12 (0.98)
6.31 (2.23)
4.54 (1.58)
6.68 (1.79)
Envy
1.85 (1.20)
3.93 (2.44)
2.75 (1.57)
4.40 (2.39)
Pity
2.50 (1.46)
2.85 (2.07)
3.59 (2.19)
3.95 (2.19)
Antipathy
4.27 (1.55)
3.95 (2.28)
3.28 (2.07)
3.21 (2.13)
Indifference
5.22 (1.85)
2.66 (1.67)
5.29 (1.28)
5.22 (1.71)
Apathy
4.55 (2.17)
4.17 (2.39)
4.42 (1.64)
4.13 (1.37)
Sorry For
2.23 (1.39)
2.97 (2.07)
2.85 (1.54)
3.18 (2.13)
Note. Emotions and behaviors selected in boldface. Standard deviations appear in parenthesis.
Social perception of animals 48
Table 6
Mean Ratings for Behaviors Related to Clusters. Pilot Study 2
Clusters
Low warmth
High Warmth
Low
competence
High
Competence
Low
Competence
High
competence
Manage
3.84 (1.87)
2.73 (2.45)
4.70 (1.73)
5.98 (2.40)
Sustain
3.69 (2.10)
3.24 (2.59)
5.15 (1.98)
5.94 (2.35)
Control
3.33 (1.90)
2.53 (2.19)
4.70 (2.04)
5.86 (2.61)
Care for
3.33 (1.11)
3.04 (1.86)
5.18 (1.72)
6.65 (1.84)
Support
3.84 (1.54)
4.38 (2.76)
6.31 (1.54)
6.57 (1.90)
Tolerate
4.72 (1.33)
6.05 (2.31)
7.36 (1.15)
7.54 (1.59)
Avoid
5.13 (1.58)
7.28 (1.73)
3.12 (1.56)
3.02 (1.96)
Shoot
2.45 (1.52)
3.49 (1.66)
2.76 (1.51)
2.10 (1.04)
Assist
2.33 (1.26)
3.01 (2.02)
3.95 (2.00)
4.95 (2.08)
Integrate
3.47 (1.44)
1.95 (1.52)
4.01 (1.69)
5.64 (2.17)
Coexist
4.58 (1.48)
2.05 (1.24)
5.32 (1.54)
6.26 (1.92)
Coordinate
2.96 (1.48)
2.42 (1.68)
4.26 (2.00)
5.67 (2.69)
Help
2.75 (1.28)
4.57 (2.61)
4.37 (1.79)
6.00 (2.26)
Interact
3.18 (1.33)
1.76 (1.11)
3.92 (1.57)
5.78 (1.95)
Eat
3.71 (1.04)
1.61 (1.31)
4.73 (1.86)
1.54 (1.30)
Oppose
4.55 (1.79)
4.09 (2.33)
2.60 (1.69)
2.50 (1.74)
Fight
3.57 (1.86)
3.55 (2.67)
1.84 (1.18)
2.19 (1.27)
Hunt
4.34 (1.89)
4.63 (2.12)
3.43 (1.82)
2.33 (1.60)
Exclude
4.87 (1.97)
5.76 (2.98)
4.12 (1.70)
3.32 (1.87)
Exterminate
5.03 (1.73)
3.25 (2.02)
2.81 (1.72)
2.45 (1.38)
Demean
4.30 (2.04)
2.21 (1.80)
3.46 (1.95)
3.07 (1.60)
Trap
5.18 (1.90)
3.22 (1.78)
3.23 (1.75)
3.18 (1.88)
Persecute
5.39 (1.62)
3.73 (2.21)
3.73 (1.73)
3.09 (1.68)
Reject
5.29 (1.25)
4.23 (2.55)
2.70 (1.15)
2.65 (1.86)
Harm
5.99 (1.36)
3.93 (2.18)
3.79 (1.80)
2.78 (1.64)
Kill
6.59 (1.54)
4.30 (2.25)
4.51 (1.69)
2.49 (1.50)
Poison
4.88 (2.60)
2.59 (2.47)
2.77 (2.45)
2.53 (2.38)
Attack
5.25 (1.80)
3.91 (2.43)
3.42 (1.91)
2.18 (1.42)
Injure
5.66 (1.76)
3.61 (2.37)
3.49 (2.21)
2.61 (1.56)
Conserve
3.14 (1.53)
5.56 (2.59)
4.55 (2.00)
5.72 (2.35)
Monitor
3.89 (1.77)
5.36 (2.43)
4.55 (1.89)
5.38 (2.29)
Take for granted
5.72 (1.92)
5.53 (2.62)
6.42 (1.78)
6.27 (2.18)
Undermine
5.11 (2.02)
4.72 (2.64)
4.65 (2.13)
4.12 (2.37)
Protect
2.65 (1.25)
5.71 (2.32)
4.06 (1.95)
5.38 (2.43)
Neglect
4.50 (2.15)
4.13 (2.32)
3.84 (1.87)
3.73 (1.44)
Ignore
4.29 (1.58)
2.55 (2.03)
5.01 (1.87)
4.37 (1.87)
Note. Standard deviations appear in parenthesis.
Social perception of animals 49
Table 7
Emotions Elicited by Animal Clusters, Study 2
Fondness
Awe
Indifference
Contempt
High-Warmth/High-
Competence
6.31 (1.19)
4.02 (1.61)
4.30 (1.37)
2.41 (0.50)
Low-Warmth/High-
Competence
3.94 (1.26)
7.35 (0.95)
2.29 (0.59)
3.56 (0.70)
High-Warmth/Low-
Competence
5.40 (1.05)
2.79 (1.19)
5.11 (1.09)
2.45 (0.94)
Low-Warmth/Low
Competence
2.88 (1.17)
4.05 (1.82)
3.72 (1.58)
5.08a (2.33)
Note. Numbers in boldface indicate emotions predicted to be high for particular clusters. For
awe, tenderness, comfortable, indifferent, and neutral emotions, the does not apply option was
chosen by 1 or 2 participants (3-7%). Delight, disgust, bored, terror, contempt, uneasy, and fond
were not applied to animals by 1 to 4 participants (3-14%). For the rest of emotions, this
response option was chosen by 1 or none (< 3%). Standard deviations appear in parenthesis.
aWithin-clusters analysis did not show significant differences between contempt and the average
of the other three emotions (p = .200) whereas between-cluster analysis did show significant
differences between contempt ascribed to the low-warmth/low-competence cluster and all the
others (p = .002).
Social perception of animals 50
Table 8
Behavioral Tendencies by Warmth and Competence Stereotypes, Study 2
Warmth
Competence
High
Low
High
Low
M
SD
M
SD
p
M
SD
M
SD
p
Active
facilitation
α = 0.93a
5.29
1.62
3.19
0.88
***
Passive facilitation
α =.80
5.93
0.44
4.33
1.36
***
Active harm
α =.93
2.69
0.84
4.46
1.88
**
Passive harm
α = .74
Ignore
3.05
1.00
4.77
1.33
**
Passive harm: let
them die off
3.36
0.57
5.61
1.74
***
Note. Regarding behaviors, the does not apply option was chosen by 1 to 3 participants (3-11%) for conserve,
sustain, exterminate, hunt, monitor, trap, befriend, support, interact, kill, and coexist; by 4 participants (14%) for
help and ignore; by 1 to 6 participants (3-22%) for injure, reject, and manage. No specific animal was systematically
ascribed with the does not apply option on emotions or behaviors.
aAlphas computed across animals (N = 25). Across participants responses (N between 459 and 642) alphas were:
active facilitation = .69), active harm (α = .66), passive facilitation = .69), and passive harm (α = .17). As the
passive harm dimension showed an extremely low alpha when computed across participants' responses, analyses
regarding this dimension were conducted separately for the let them die off and ignore behaviors.
** p < .01. *** p < .001.
Social perception of animals 51
Table 9
Correlations of Behavioral Tendencies with Emotions, Study 2
Predictor
Behavioral Tendency
Active
Facilitation
Active Harm
Passive
Facilitation
Passive Harm
let them die off
Ignore
Animal level
Emotions
Fond
.83***
-.73***
.51**
-.56**
.09
Contempt
-.63***
.80***
-.66***
.57**
-.05
Awe
-.66***
-.05
.43*
-.38+
-.77***
Indifference
.78***
-.19
-.17
.19
.74***
Participant level
Emotions
Fond
.59***
-.55***
.26***
-.31***
.03
Contempt
-.50***
.61***
-.23***
.29***
-.09*
Awe
-.47***
.07*
.26***
-.20***
-.43***
Indifference
.52***
-.13***
-.08*
.11***
.31***
Note. Boldface correlations were predicted to be significant (17 of 20). Active Facilitation: help, support,
behave friendly, interact; Active Harm: kill, trap, injure, exterminate, reject; Passive Facilitation:
Conserve, sustain.
+ p < .06. * p < .05. *** p < .001.
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