An Adult Developmental Approach to Perceived Facial Attractiveness and Distinctiveness.
ABSTRACT: Attractiveness and distinctiveness constitute facial features with high biological and social relevance. Bringing a developmental perspective to research on social-cognitive face perception, we used a large set of faces taken from the FACES Lifespan Database to examine effects of face and perceiver characteristics on subjective evaluations of attractiveness and distinctiveness in young (20-31 years), middle-aged (44-55 years), and older (70-81 years) men and women. We report novel findings supporting variations by face and perceiver age, in interaction with gender and emotion: although older and middle-aged compared to young perceivers generally rated faces of all ages as more attractive, young perceivers gave relatively higher attractiveness ratings to young compared to middle-aged and older faces. Controlling for variations in attractiveness, older compared to young faces were viewed as more distinctive by young and middle-aged perceivers. Age affected attractiveness more negatively for female than male faces. Furthermore, happy faces were rated as most attractive, while disgusted faces were rated as least attractive, particularly so by middle-aged and older perceivers and for young and female faces. Perceivers largely agreed on distinctiveness ratings for neutral and happy emotions, but older and middle-aged compared to young perceivers rated faces displaying negative emotions as more distinctive. These findings underscore the importance of a lifespan perspective on perception of facial characteristics and suggest possible effects of age on goal-directed perception, social motivation, and in-group bias. This publication makes available picture-specific normative data for experimental stimulus selection.
Project description:Previous research reveals that a more 'African' appearance has significant social consequences, yielding more negative first impressions and harsher criminal sentencing of Black or White individuals. This study is the first to systematically assess the relative contribution of skin tone and facial metrics to White, Black, and Korean perceivers' ratings of the racial prototypicality of faces from the same three groups. Our results revealed that the relative contribution of metrics and skin tone depended on both perceiver race and face race. White perceivers' racial prototypicality ratings were less responsive to variations in skin tone than were Black or Korean perceivers' ratings. White perceivers ratings' also were more responsive to facial metrics than to skin tone, while the reverse was true for Black perceivers. Additionally, across all perceiver groups, skin tone had a more consistent impact than metrics on racial prototypicality ratings of White faces, with the reverse for Korean faces. For Black faces, the relative impact varied with perceiver race: skin tone had a more consistent impact than metrics for Black and Korean perceivers, with the reverse for White perceivers. These results have significant implications for predicting who will experience racial prototypicality biases and from whom.
Project description:Facial stimuli are widely used in behavioural and brain science research to investigate emotional facial processing. However, some studies have demonstrated that dynamic expressions elicit stronger emotional responses compared to static images. To address the need for more ecologically valid and powerful facial emotional stimuli, we created Dynamic FACES, a database of morphed videos (n?=?1026) from younger, middle-aged, and older adults displaying naturalistic emotional facial expressions (neutrality, sadness, disgust, fear, anger, happiness). To assess adult age differences in emotion identification of dynamic stimuli and to provide normative ratings for this modified set of stimuli, healthy adults (n?=?1822, age range 18-86 years) categorised for each video the emotional expression displayed, rated the expression distinctiveness, estimated the age of the face model, and rated the naturalness of the expression. We found few age differences in emotion identification when using dynamic stimuli. Only for angry faces did older adults show lower levels of identification accuracy than younger adults. Further, older adults outperformed middle-aged adults' in identification of sadness. The use of dynamic facial emotional stimuli has previously been limited, but Dynamic FACES provides a large database of high-resolution naturalistic, dynamic expressions across adulthood. Information on using Dynamic FACES for research purposes can be found at http://faces.mpib-berlin.mpg.de .
Project description:Previous research has shown that perceivers can accurately extract information about perceptually ambiguous group memberships from facial information alone. For example, people demonstrate above-chance accuracy in categorizing political ideology from faces. Further, they ascribe particular personality traits to faces according to political party (e.g., Republicans are dominant and mature, Democrats are likeable and trustworthy). Here, we report three studies that replicated and extended these effects. In Study 1a, we provide evidence that, in addition to showing accuracy in categorization, politically-conservative participants expressed a bias toward categorizing targets as outgroup members. In Study 1b, we replicate this relationship with a larger sample and a stimulus set consisting of faces of professional politicians. In Study 2, we find that trait ascriptions based on target political affiliation are moderated by perceiver political ideology. Specifically, although Democrats are stereotyped as more likeable and trustworthy, conservative participants rated faces that were categorized as Republicans in Study 1a as more likeable and trustworthy than faces categorized as Democrats. Thus, this paper joins a growing literature showing that it is critical to consider perceiver identity in examining perceptions of identities and traits from faces.
Project description:It seems obvious that what you see influences what you feel, but what if the opposite were also true? What if how you feel can shape your visual experience? In this experiment, we demonstrate that the affective state of a perceiver influences the contents of visual awareness. Participants received positive, negative, and neutral affect inductions and then completed a series of binocular rivalry trials in which a face (smiling, scowling or neutral) was presented to one eye and a house to the other. The percepts "competed" for dominance in visual consciousness. We found, as predicted, that all faces (smiling, scowling, and neutral) were dominant for longer when perceivers experienced unpleasant affect compared to when they were in a neutral state (a social vigilance effect), although scowling faces increased their dominance when perceivers felt unpleasant (a relative negative congruence effect). Relatively speaking, smiling faces increased their dominance more when perceivers were experiencing pleasant affect (a positive congruence effect). These findings illustrate that the affective state of a perceiver serves as a context that influences the contents of consciousness.
Project description:According to the norm-based version of the multidimensional face space model (nMDFS, Valentine, 1991), any given face and its corresponding anti-face (which deviates from the norm in exactly opposite direction as the original face) should be equidistant to a hypothetical prototype face (norm), such that by definition face and anti-face should bear the same level of perceived typicality. However, it has been argued that familiarity affects perceived typicality and that representations of familiar faces are qualitatively different (e.g., more robust and image-independent) from those for unfamiliar faces. Here we investigated the role of face familiarity for rated typicality, using two frequently used operationalisations of typicality (deviation-based: DEV), and distinctiveness (face in the crowd: FITC) for faces of celebrities and their corresponding anti-faces. We further assessed attractiveness, likeability and trustworthiness ratings of the stimuli, which are potentially related to typicality. For unfamiliar faces and their corresponding anti-faces, in line with the predictions of the nMDFS, our results demonstrate comparable levels of perceived typicality (DEV). In contrast, familiar faces were perceived much less typical than their anti-faces. Furthermore, familiar faces were rated higher than their anti-faces in distinctiveness, attractiveness, likability and trustworthiness. These findings suggest that familiarity strongly affects the distribution of facial representations in norm-based face space. Overall, our study suggests (1) that familiarity needs to be considered in studies of mental representations of faces, and (2) that familiarity, general distance-to-norm and more specific vector directions in face space make different and interactive contributions to different types of facial evaluations.
Project description:In the present research, we took advantage of geometric morphometrics to propose a data-driven method for estimating the individual degree of facial typicality/distinctiveness for cross-cultural (and other cross-group) comparisons. Looking like a stranger in one's home culture may be somewhat stressful. The same facial appearance, however, might become advantageous within an outgroup population. To address this fit between facial appearance and cultural setting, we propose a simple measure of distinctiveness/typicality based on position of an individual along the axis connecting the facial averages of two populations under comparison. The more distant a face is from its ingroup population mean toward the outgroup mean the more distinct it is (vis-à-vis the ingroup) and the more it resembles the outgroup standards. We compared this new measure with an alternative measure based on distance from outgroup mean. The new measure showed stronger association with rated facial distinctiveness than distance from outgroup mean. Subsequently, we manipulated facial stimuli to reflect different levels of ingroup-outgroup distinctiveness and tested them in one of the target cultures. Perceivers were able to successfully distinguish outgroup from ingroup faces in a two-alternative forced-choice task. There was also some evidence that this task was harder when the two faces were closer along the axis connecting the facial averages from the two cultures. Future directions and potential applications of our proposed approach are discussed.
Project description:Many studies have investigated the physical cues that influence face preferences. By contrast, relatively few studies have investigated the effects of facial cues to the direction and valence of others' social interest (i.e. gaze direction and facial expressions) on face preferences. Here we found that participants demonstrated stronger preferences for direct gaze when judging the attractiveness of happy faces than that of disgusted faces, and that this effect of expression on the strength of attraction to direct gaze was particularly pronounced for judgements of opposite-sex faces (study 1). By contrast, no such opposite-sex bias in preferences for direct gaze was observed when participants judged the same faces for likeability (study 2). Collectively, these findings for a context-sensitive opposite-sex bias in preferences for perceiver-directed smiles, but not perceiver-directed disgust, suggest gaze preference functions, at least in part, to facilitate efficient allocation of mating effort, and evince adaptive design in the perceptual mechanisms that underpin face preferences.
Project description:Negative social evaluations represent social threats and elicit negative emotions such as anger or fear. Positive social evaluations, by contrast, may increase self-esteem and generate positive emotions such as happiness and pride. Gender differences are likely to shape both the perception and expression of positive and negative social evaluations. Yet, current knowledge is limited by a reliance on studies that used static images of individual expressers with limited external validity. Furthermore, only few studies considered gender differences on both the expresser and perceiver side. The present study approached these limitations by utilizing a naturalistic stimulus set displaying nine males and nine females (expressers) delivering social evaluative sentences to 32 female and 26 male participants (perceivers). Perceivers watched 30 positive, 30 negative, and 30 neutral messages while facial electromyography (EMG) was continuously recorded and subjective ratings were obtained. Results indicated that men expressing positive evaluations elicited stronger EMG responses in both perceiver genders. Arousal was rated higher when positive evaluations were expressed by the opposite gender. Thus, gender differences need to be more explicitly considered in research of social cognition and affective science using naturalistic social stimuli.
Project description:Ventral-visual activity in older adults has been characterized by dedifferentiation, or reduced distinctiveness, of responses to different categories of visual stimuli such as faces and houses, that typically elicit highly specialized responses in the fusiform and parahippocampal brain regions respectively in young adults (Park et al., 2004). In the present study, we demonstrate that age-related neural dedifferentiation applies to within-category stimuli (different types of faces) as well, such that older adults process less distinctive representations for individual faces than young adults. We performed a functional magnetic resonance imaging adaptation experiment while young and older participants made same-different judgments to serially presented face-pairs that were Identical, Moderate in similarity through morphing, or Different. As expected, older adults showed adaptation in the fusiform face area (FFA), during the Identical as well as the Moderate conditions relative to the Different condition. Young adults showed adaptation during the Identical condition, but minimal adaptation to the Moderate condition. These results indicate that older adults' FFA treated the morphed faces as Identical faces, reflecting decreased fidelity of neural representation of faces with age.
Project description:Attractiveness plays an important role in social exchange and in the ability to attract potential mates, especially for women. Several facial traits have been described as reliable indicators of attractiveness in women, but very few studies consider the influence of several measurements simultaneously. In addition, most studies consider just one of two assessments to directly measure attractiveness: either self-evaluation or men's ratings. We explored the relationship between these two estimators of attractiveness and a set of facial traits in a sample of 266 young Spanish women. These traits are: facial fluctuating asymmetry, facial averageness, facial sexual dimorphism, and facial maturity. We made use of the advantage of having recently developed methodologies that enabled us to measure these variables in real faces. We also controlled for three other widely used variables: age, body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio. The inclusion of many different variables allowed us to detect any possible interaction between the features described that could affect attractiveness perception. Our results show that facial fluctuating asymmetry is related both to self-perceived and male-rated attractiveness. Other facial traits are related only to one direct attractiveness measurement: facial averageness and facial maturity only affect men's ratings. Unmodified faces are closer to natural stimuli than are manipulated photographs, and therefore our results support the importance of employing unmodified faces to analyse the factors affecting attractiveness. We also discuss the relatively low equivalence between self-perceived and male-rated attractiveness and how various anthropometric traits are relevant to them in different ways. Finally, we highlight the need to perform integrated-variable studies to fully understand female attractiveness.