I’ve provided below an overview of Vaes and Paladino’s paper on “The uniquely human content of stereotypes”. Let me know if you have questions.

Vaes and Paladino’s paper underlying aim is to discern the linkages between infrahumanization and intergroup stereotyping and extend this to the affinity between uniquely human and competence factors. In essence, the question is whether stereotypes associated to a group entail a uniquely human dimension.

The paper discusses the following:

In-group stereotypes – more human as opposed to out-group stereotypes, which are formulated as a consequence of the denial of out-group humanity. This occurs when the out-groups lack warmth and competence.

Stereotype Content Model (SCM) – This model illustrates how the relative status of a group plays a crucial role in ascribing the level of “perceived warmth” through

i) degree of competence, and

ii) type of interdependence (if competitive or not)

From this, four inter-group stereotypes emerge:

1) Competent and warm (i.e. in-group)

2) Competent but not warm (High status/competitive groups),

3) Incompetent but warm (Low status/uncompetitive groups)

4) Neither competent nor warm (Low status, competitive groups).

It is within this context that the paper aims to demonstrate which of the groups derived from SCM are more susceptible to being infrahumanized.

One thing to not is that when the out-group is infrahumanized, “both positive and negative secondary emotions are denied”. 3 hypotheses derived from earlier research are tested:

1) Infrahumanization hypothesis – this target-based approach to infrahumanization theory claims that the infrahumanization bias should occur in all “inter-group comparisons independently of the out-group’s position according to the SCM”.

2) Low–low out-group hypothesis – Based on the findings of Harris and Fiske (2006), low–low out-groups are infrahumanized to a larger degree than other out-groups as they are denied “full humanness”.

3) Competence hypothesis – The third and most important hypothesis examines the connection between stereotype content and the varied forms of humanness. It predicts that high competence/low warmth outgroups will be perceived as most uniquely human.


By exploring the human content of stereotypes, the paper’s findings show that the in-group is always identified as uniquely human, even when seen differently in terms of competence and warmth (based on the SCM). In this regard, Vaes and Paladino extend the infrahumanization bias to intergroup stereotypes.