Stereotype Content Model: Warmth & Competence

“Fiske…had been developing a theory of dehumanization called the Stereotype Content Model, in which there are two criteria by which we measure people we meet: warmth and competence. “What do you need to know about people who are unfamiliar to you?” she says. “First you need to know their intentions — good or ill. If their intentions are benign, you trust them more. If they’re malignant, you don’t. Then you need to know whether they can act on their intentions. Because if they can’t act on their intentions, they don’t really matter to you. That’s competence.”

These two measures form a square with four quadrants into which we sort the people we meet. Those we consider to be like us are both warm and competent. People we envy are those we see as competent but not warm (think Wall Street bankers). We see people we pity or sympathize with as warm but not competent (disabled or elderly people). And people who are neither competent nor warm we see as something else entirely.”

-Frank Bures, “Are Cyclists Human? October 13, 2020

I’ve always been one to focus on competence. It occurs to me that not focusing on warmth can lead to other emotions beyond envy, such as being perceived as arrogant.