How we judge personality from faces depends on our beliefs about how personality works


NYU researchers tested how much we believe different traits co-occur in other people’s personalities–for instance, how much we think competence co-occurs with friendliness in others. They then used a method able to visualize the subjects’ mental image of a personality trait, allowing them to see if subjects who believe competent people tend to also be friendly have mental images of a competent face and friendly face that are physically more resembling.

We make snap judgments of others based not only on their facial appearance, but also on our pre-existing beliefs about how others’ personalities work, finds a new study by a team of psychology researchers.

Its work, reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, underscores how we interpret others’ facial features to form impressions of their personalities.

“People form personality impressions from others’ facial appearance within only a few hundred milliseconds,” observes Jonathan Freeman, the…

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Last modified: August 27, 2018

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