Facial covers influence person perception
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Description: We examined the effect a facial covering has on person perception depending on perceivers' attitudes. We used two online experiments in which participants saw the same human target persons repeatedly appearing with and without a specific piece of clothing and had to judge the target persons’ character. In Experiment 1 (N =101), we investigated how the wearing of a facial mask influences person perception depending on the perceiver’s attitude towards measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. In Experiment 2 (N =114), we examined the effect of wearing a head cover associated with Arabic culture on person perception depending on the perceiver’s attitude towards Islam. Both studies were preregistered; both found evidence that person perception is a process shaped by personal attitudes of the perceiver as well as merely the target persons’ outward appearance. Integrating previous findings, we demonstrate those facial covers, as well as head covers, operate as cues used by the perceivers to infer the target persons’ underlying attitudes. The judgment of the target person is shaped by the perceived attitude toward what the facial covering stereotypically symbolizes.