About Face

Our faces broadcast information about us: whether we’re smart, warm, trustworthy. How do these signals influence decision-making – and are they accurate? Psychologist Alexander Todorov discusses the science behind face value.

RELATED MATERIALS

See more demonstrations of how faces influence our first impressions on the Social Perception Lab’s website. Dr. Todorov’s book Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions was published in 2017 by Princeton University Press.

"People are convinced that more competent-looking business people are more valuable, and they get higher salaries,’ [Professor Christopher] Olivola explained, even though the companies don’t perform any better under their leadership". From James Hamblin’s article in The Atlantic: The Introverted Face.

"After his mugshot sent the Internet into a frenzy, the 32-year-old received modeling offers. Fundraising efforts and Facebook groups were created for Meeks". From the Los Angeles Times’ Veronica Rocha: "‘Hot Felon’ Jeremy Meeks released from federal prison and gets job offers".

REFERENCES

Berry, D. S., & Zebrowitz-McArthur, L. (1988). What’s in a face? Facial maturity and the attribution of legal responsibility. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 14(1), 23-33.

Maoz, I. (2012). The face of the enemy: The effect of press-reported visual information regarding the facial features of opponent politicians on support for peace. Political Communication, 29(3), 243-256.

Todorov, A., Mandisodza, A. N., Goren, A., & Hall, C. C. (2005). Inferences of competence from faces predict election outcomes. Science, 308(5728), 1623-1626.

Todorov, A., Pakrashi, M., & Oosterhof, N.N. (2009). Evaluating faces on trustworthiness after minimal time exposure. Social Cognition, 27(6), 813-833.

CREDITS

About Face was created and developed by Mahzarin Banaji and Olivia Kang with funding from PwC and Harvard University.

Narration by Olivia Kang, featuring Professor Alexander Todorov (Princeton University)

Camera & Editing by Evan Younger

Face images and demonstrations courtesy of Alexander Todorov, Social Perception Lab, Princeton University

Music by Olive Musique, Brightside Studio, & Alex Messier via Premium Beat

Stock footage via iStock.com

Artwork by Olivia Kang

Research Assistant: Timothy Carroll

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