Integrating social and facial models of person perception: Converging and diverging dimensions

Clare AM Sutherland* (Corresponding Author), Julian A Oldmeadow, Andrew W Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
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© 2016 Elsevier B.V.
Models of first impressions from faces have consistently found two underlying dimensions of trustworthiness and dominance. These dimensions show apparent parallels to social psychological models of inter-group perception that describe dimensions of warmth (cf. trustworthiness) and competence (cf. dominance), and it has been suggested that they reflect universal dimensions of social cognition. We investigated whether the dimensions from face and inter-group social perception models are indeed equivalent by evaluating first impressions of faces. Across four studies with differing methods we consistently found that while perceptions of trustworthiness and warmth were closely related, perceptions of dominance and competence were less strongly related. Taken together, our results demonstrate strong similarity on the first dimension across facial and social models, with less similarity on the second dimension. We suggest that facial impressions of competence and dominance may represent different routes to judging a stranger's capability to help or harm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-267
Number of pages11
Early online date28 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interests. The first author received the following financial support: an ESRC studentship [ES/I900748/1] and postdoctoral research support from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, University of Western Australia [CE110001021]. The funding sources had no influence on the research. Parts of this paper are based on portions of the first author’s doctoral thesis at the Department of Psychology, York, UK. We thank Alex Koch as well as three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.


  • face perception
  • first impressions
  • social cognition
  • person perception


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