Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Facial features are the key to first impressions

Date:
July 28, 2014
Source:
University of York
Summary:
A new study shows that it is possible to accurately predict first impressions using measurements of physical features in everyday images of faces, such as those found on social media.

Top: Facial features associated with the Approachability dimension. Does this person want to harm me, or will they help me? Middle: Facial features associated with the Youthful-Attractiveness dimension. Might this person be a suitable romantic partner (or love rival)? Bottom: Facial features associated with the Dominance dimension. Does this person have the capacity to carry out their intentions toward me?
Credit: Image courtesy of University of York

A new study by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of York shows that it is possible to accurately predict first impressions using measurements of physical features in everyday images of faces, such as those found on social media.

When we look at a picture of a face we rapidly form judgements about a person's character, for example whether they are friendly, trustworthy or competent. Even though it is not clear how accurate they are, these first impressions can influence our subsequent behaviour (for example, judgements of competence based on facial images can predict election results). The impressions we create through images of our faces ("avatars" or "selfies") are becoming more and more important in a world where we increasingly get to know one another online rather than in the flesh.

Previous research has shown that many different judgements can be boiled down to three distinct "dimensions": approachability (do they want to help or harm me?), dominance (can they help or harm me?) and youthful-attractiveness (perhaps representing whether they'd be a good romantic partner -- or a rival!).

To investigate the basis for these judgements the research team took ordinary photographs from the web and analyzed physical features of the faces to develop a model that could accurately predict first impressions. Each of 1,000 faces was described in terms of 65 different features such as "eye height," "eyebrow width" and so on. By combining these measures the model could explain more than half of the variation in human raters' social judgements of the same faces.

Reversing the process it was also possible to create new cartoon-like faces that produced predictable first impressions in a new set of judges. These images also illustrate the features that are associated with particular social judgements.

The study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), shows how important faces and specific images of faces can be in creating a favourable or unfavourable first impression. It provides a scientific insight into the processes that underlie these judgements and perhaps into the instinctive expertise of those (such as casting directors, portrait photographers, picture editors and animators) who create and manipulate these impressions professionally.

Richard Vernon, a PhD student who was part of the research team, said: "Showing that even supposedly arbitrary features in a face can influence people's perceptions suggests that careful choice of a photo could make (or break) others' first impressions of you."

Fellow PhD student, Clare Sutherland, said: "We make first impressions of others so intuitively that it seems effortless -- I think it's fascinating that we can pin this down with scientific models. I'm now looking at how these first impressions might change depending on different cultural or gender groups of perceivers or faces."

Professor Andy Young, of the Department of Psychology at York, said: "Showing how these first impressions can be captured from very variable images of faces offers insight into how our brains achieve this seemingly remarkable perceptual feat."

Dr Tom Hartley, who led the research with Professor Young, added: "In everyday life I am not conscious of the way faces and pictures of faces are influencing the way I interact with people. Whether in "real life" or online; it feels as if a person's character is something I can just sense. These results show how heavily these impressions are influenced by visual features of the face -- it's quite an eye opener!"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Richard J. W. Vernon, Clare A. M. Sutherland, Andrew W. Young, and Tom Hartley. Modeling first impressions from highly variable facial images. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1409860111

Cite This Page:

University of York. "Facial features are the key to first impressions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140728153850.htm>.
University of York. (2014, July 28). Facial features are the key to first impressions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140728153850.htm
University of York. "Facial features are the key to first impressions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140728153850.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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