Understanding evaluation of faces on social dimensions

Alexander Todorov, Chris P. Said, Andrew D. Engell, Nikolaas N. Oosterhof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

335 Scopus citations

Abstract

People reliably and automatically make personality inferences from facial appearance despite little evidence for their accuracy. Although such inferences are highly inter-correlated, research has traditionally focused on studying specific traits such as trustworthiness. We advocate an alternative, data-driven approach to identify and model the structure of face evaluation. Initial findings indicate that specific trait inferences can be represented within a 2D space defined by valence/trustworthiness and power/dominance evaluation of faces. Inferences along these dimensions are based on similarity to expressions signaling approach or avoidance behavior and features signaling physical strength, respectively, indicating that trait inferences from faces originate in functionally adaptive mechanisms. We conclude with a discussion of the potential role of the amygdala in face evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-460
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Volume12
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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    Todorov, A., Said, C. P., Engell, A. D., & Oosterhof, N. N. (2008). Understanding evaluation of faces on social dimensions. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(12), 455-460. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2008.10.001