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This study examined the impact of a variable, facial expression, on the social perception and personality trait stereotypic inferences made to age and gender. Twelve facial photographs of young and old female and male models posing with either smiling, scowling, or neutral facial expressions were presented to participants who judged various social perceptions and personality traits. Results indicated that facial expression is strongly associated with two very different inference groupings. Smiling induced positive inferences, creating a Halo Effect, scowling induced negative inferences, creating a Horns Effect. Smiling influenced the age and gender inferences in a positive direction, and scowling did the opposite. The age and gender stereotypical inferences made to the neutral facial expression were in-between smiling and scowling. In all model configurations, the impact of smiling or scowling on the inference process was much stronger than either age or gender. However, significant age and gender inference differences were found in all three facial expression conditions, indicating that facial expressions did not completely subdue the use of these variables as inference inducers. The results are discussed in terms of how specific facial expressions can be used to positively or negatively influence age and gender stereotypes.


This article was originally published Open Access in Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Humanities and Social Sciences Communications

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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