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It’s no secret we judge people based on how they look. Alexander Todorov, a psychology professor at Princeton University, researched this phenomenon. He noted how we easily and inaccurately associate behaviors with looks.

The Test Was Set Up Using Computer-Generated Faces

iStock 78116929 SMALL - Judgments Are Made In The Blink Of The Eye

U.S. College students evaluated only faces generated on a computer. Only white faces were used to avoid issues of race.

Subtle Differences In A Face Changed A Person’s Attitude

Here’s the breakdown:

  • A Baby Face Signifies Weakness: People associated a baby face with naivety, submissiveness, kindness, warmth, honesty, and physical weakness. A baby face appearance included those with a larger ratio of the cranium to the chin, a rounder face and larger eyes. Overall, women tend to have more baby-faced characteristics than men.
  • Competence: A vote of competence increased with darker skin and attractiveness.
  • Likability: Associated traits with likability included resemblance to a smile and attractiveness.
  • Extroversion: A person was deemed to be more extroversion as face width widened and a resemblance to a smile.
  • Dominance: Those photos in which the person had masculine features and darker skin were perceived to be more dominant.
  • Increased Threat: Associated traits included resemblance to an angry expression and masculine features.


In Summary

We form impressions of others in less than a blink of an eye. Often these judgments are not based in reality.
Even neutral faces resemble emotional expressions. Not surprisingly angry faces are perceived as more powerful, threatening and angry. We tend to trust happy faces.

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