Universal dimensions of social cognition: warmth and competence
Susan T Fiske et al.; 2007
Like all perception, social perception reﬂects evolutionary pressures. In encounters with conspeciﬁcs, social animals must determine, immediately, whether the ‘other’ is friend or foe (i.e. intends good or ill) and, then, whether the ‘other’ has the ability to enact those intentions. New data conﬁrm these two universal dimensions of social cognition: warmth and competence. Promoting survival, these dimensions provide fundamental social structural answers about competition and status. People perceived as warm and competent elicit uniformly positive emotions and behavior, whereas those perceived as lacking warmth and competence elicit uniform negativity. People classiﬁed as high on one dimension and low on the other elicit predictable, ambivalent affective and behavioral reactions. These universal dimensions explain both interpersonal and intergroup social cognition.
"[People] everywhere differentiate each other by liking (warmth, trustworthiness) and by respecting (competence, efﬁciency)."
"The basic dimensions of warmth and competence account for 82% of the variance in perceptions of everyday social behaviors ."
"In sum, when people spontaneously interpret behavior or form impressions of others, warmth and competence form basic dimensions that, together, account almost entirely for how people characterize others."
"Although warmth and competence dimensions emerge consistently, considerable evidence suggests that warmth judgments are primary: warmth is judged before competence, and warmth judgments carry more weight in affective and behavioral reactions."
"The priority for detecting warmth over competence, although robust, is stronger for some kinds of perceivers than others. In particular, women, whose traditional gender roles emphasize communal (warmth) over agentic (competence) traits, show a stronger priority for detecting warmth. Communal traits traditionally affect women’s lives more, whereas competence traits traditionally affect men relatively more."