Understanding trait impressions from faces

Clare Sutherland* (Corresponding Author), Andrew Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Impressions from faces are made remarkably quickly and they can underpin behaviour in a wide variety of social contexts. Over the last decade many studies have sought to trace the links between facial cues and social perception and behaviour. One such body of work has shown clear overlap between the fields of face perception and social stereotyping by demonstrating a role for conceptual stereotypes in impression formation from faces. We integrate these results involving conceptual influences on impressions with another substantial body of research in visual cognition which demonstrates that much of the variance in impressions can be predicted from perceptual, data-driven models using physical cues in face images. We relate this discussion to the phylogenetic, cultural, individual and developmental origins of facial impressions and define priority research questions for the field including investigating non-WEIRD cultures, tracking the developmental trajectory of impressions and determining the malleability of impression formation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1056-1078
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding information
Australian Research Council, Grant/Award Number: DE190101043 and DP170104602; Experimental Psychology Society, Grant/Award Number: Small Research grant

Data Availability Statement



  • data-driven approaches
  • first impressions
  • face perception
  • social cognition models
  • trait attributions


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