Animals as social objects: Groups, stereotypes, and intergroup threats

Verónica Sevillano, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Nonhuman animals are typically excluded from the scope of social psychology. This article presents animals as social objects - targets of human social responses - overviewing the similarities and differences with human targets. The focus here is on perceiving animal species as social groups. Reflecting the two fundamental dimensions of humans' social cognition - perceived warmth (benign or ill intent) and competence (high or low ability), proposed within the Stereotype Content Model (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002) - animal stereotypes are identified, together with associated prejudices and behavioral tendencies. In line with human intergroup threats, both realistic and symbolic threats associated with animals are reviewed. As a whole, animals appear to be social perception targets within the human sphere of influence and a valid topic for research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-217
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


  • Animals
  • Competence
  • Prejudice
  • Social cognition
  • Social groups
  • Stereotypes
  • Warmth


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