Stereotypic Representations of Groups Shape Facial Impressions of Group Members
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Description: Facial impressions (e.g., trustworthy, assertive) have long been thought to be evoked by morphological variation (e.g., upturned mouth) in a universal, fixed manner. However, recent research suggests that these impressions vary considerably across different perceivers and targets’ social group memberships. We investigated whether stereotypes at the intersection of race and gender may be a critical factor underlying this variability in facial impressions. In Study 1, we found that not only did facial impressions vary by targets’ gender and race, but the structure of these impressions was predicted by the structure of stereotype knowledge. Study 2 extended these findings by demonstrating that individual differences in perceivers’ own unique stereotype associations predicted the structure of their own facial impressions. Together, the findings suggest that the structure of our impressions of others’ faces is driven not only by the morphological variation of the face, but also our own learned stereotypes about social groups.
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