In three experiments, we addressed the role of stereotypes in the attribution of action tendencies in intergroup contexts. We hypothesized that stereotyping would affect the attribution of action tendencies to out-group members. Participants were presented with a facial expression displayed by either an in-group or an out-group member, followed by the presentation of a label describing an action tendency. They were then asked whether the label corresponded to the feeling state of the expresser. Study 1 tested whether stereotypes influence the attribution of action tendencies to out-group members. Study 2 tested whether stereotype application varies as a function of the emotional information contained in the facial stimuli (i.e. neutral vs. emotional). Finally, Study 3 tested whether stereotype activation is indirectly determined by a difference in morphology between in-group and out-group members or directly determined by the expresser's group membership. As predicted, an increase in attribution of stereotypic action tendencies was observed for out-group expressers. The application of stereotypes was specifically observed when facial expressions were neutral as compared to emotional and was independent of morphological differences between in-group and out-group faces. Such biases in interpreting out-group members feeling states may play a crucial role in the maintenance of intergroup prejudice. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.