Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Facial structure may predict endorsement of racial prejudice

Date:
February 13, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
The structure of a man's face may indicate his tendency to express racially prejudiced beliefs, according to new research.

The structure of a man's face may indicate his tendency to express racially prejudiced beliefs, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Studies have shown that facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) is associated with testosterone-related behaviors, which some researchers have linked with aggression. But psychological scientist Eric Hehman of Dartmouth College and colleagues at the University of Delaware speculated that these behaviors may have more to do with social dominance than outright aggression.

The researchers decided to examine the relationship between fWHR and dominance in the specific context of racial prejudice.

"Racial prejudice is such a sensitive issue and there are societal pressures to appear nonprejudiced. More dominant individuals might care less about appearing prejudiced, or exercise less self-regulation with regard to reporting those prejudices, should they exist," says Hehman, who conducted the research as a graduate student at the University of Delaware.

The researchers asked male participants about their willingness to express racially prejudiced beliefs and about the pressure they feel to adhere to societal norms. The results revealed that men who have higher fWHR (determined from photos of their faces) are more likely to express racist remarks and are less concerned about how others perceive those remarks.

Importantly, these results did not show that the men were necessarily more prejudiced -- men with greater fWHR did not score higher on measures that assessed implicit, or more automatic, racial prejudice. Rather, these men were simply more likely to express any prejudicial beliefs they may have had.

"Not all people with greater fWHRs are prejudiced, and not all those with smaller fWHRs are non-prejudiced," says Hehman. "You could think about it as a 'side effect' of social dominance -- men with greater fWHR may not care as much about what others think of them."

Results from a second study suggest that observers actually perceive and use fWHR when evaluating another person's degree of prejudice.

Looking at the photos from the first study, a new group of participants evaluated men with wider, shorter faces as more prejudiced, and they were able to accurately estimate the target's self-reported prejudicial beliefs just by looking at an image of his face. The results were confirmed in a third study.

The third study also showed that non-White participants, whose outcomes are more likely to be influenced by their race or ethnicity, were more motivated to accurately assess targets' prejudice. This greater motivation, in turn, was associated with increased accuracy. The finding is consistent with the idea that people allocate their attention to stimuli that can influence their outcomes.

Together, these three studies add to a growing literature exploring how people perceive and accurately infer personality characteristics based on physical appearance.

"This research provides the first evidence for a facial metric that not only predicts important and controversial social behaviors, such as reporting prejudices, but can also be used by others to make accurate judgments," says Hehman.

These studies may open up new avenues of research; Hehman and colleagues speculate that fWHR may be linked with explicit prejudice on a number of different dimensions beyond race.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. Hehman, J. B. Leitner, M. P. Deegan, S. L. Gaertner. Facial Structure Is Indicative of Explicit Support for Prejudicial Beliefs. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612451467

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Facial structure may predict endorsement of racial prejudice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213152412.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, February 13). Facial structure may predict endorsement of racial prejudice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213152412.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Facial structure may predict endorsement of racial prejudice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213152412.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins