What does your face say?To a large extent, people agree on how friendly, trustworthy, attractive, masculine/feminine, and so on a face appears. We have studied the effects of appearance on first impressions and personality, from which we have built models predicting how a face is likely to be judged by a stranger. This study is based on the results from 244 Danish participants, who were asked to rate each other based on twelve traits from facial photographs. We extracted facial features from the photographs by the use of an Appearance Model, and built a set of linear regression models, predicting the twelf traits from the facial appearances. Here, we give you the opportunity to test the model out on a picture of your own face! However, please note that there is a degree of uncertainty in the predictions, especially for some of the traits. We also found that participants were more in agreement when scoring men, and therefore our prediction accuracy is substantially larger for men compared to women. So please, do not take your test results too seriously.
The Halo-effect, Dominance and TrustworthinessAttractiveness is an important factor in social interactions, and our work shows, as many researchers has shown earlier, that if a person is attractive, he or she is also very likely labelled positively in other areas: An effect known as the halo-effect. We see this effect in large correlations between the positively loaded traits, that we also analyzed in this study: "Attractive", "Healthy", "Emotionally Stable", "Extraverted" and "Adventurous". Additionally, our results revealed two other trait groupings with "Dominant", "Masculine" and "Temperamental" in one group and "Trustworthy", "Responsible", "Friendly" and "Intelligent" in the other group. This means that a "Masculine"-looking man is often also judged as more "Dominating" and "Temperamental". There are of course also links between trait groupings; e.g. a woman judged as less "Feminine" is often scored low on "Attractive", "Healthy" and "Extraverted".
Our results again show that faces are evaluated based on three factors; "Trustworthiness", "Dominance" and "Attractiveness" [1,2].
So, is there an effect on personality?Not conclusively, but systematic analyses using a large number of participants have revealed subtle agreements between some appearance-based impressions and actual personalities - especially if the way a person moves and talks is part of the input [3,4]. Some facial cues are even so strong, that they are revealed from a photo. In our study, we for example found that women rated as looking "Adventurous" (Danish: "Eventyrlysten") to have a slight tendency to score higher in the corresponding personality trait "Openness to Experience". Similarly, if a woman is rated as "Dominating" she is actually somewhat more likely to also be socially dominant, and if a man is rated as looking "Responsible" and "Intelligent" he is also likely to be more "Trusting".
Does it influence us, and shape who we are?It is not proven, but likely. Intuitively it makes sense that we react to signals from our surroundings. If others see us as trustworthy and treat us so, then we will react on this treatment, which could have an effect on our development of personality.
If you would like to know more, please, take a look at our recent paper and some of the references that you will find under Publications & Press.