Information drawn from faces at the very first encounter can be essential in guiding current and subsequent behavior. These decisions also rely on expectations about what are the characteristic features of those who can be trusted or not. After novel experiences these expectations will be revised, and the facial prototypes stored in the memory will be updated. The aim of the recent experiment was to test whether behavioral information about individuals will be transferred to composite facial images. We created composite faces of individual images which were previously presented with either positive or negative behavioral descriptions. We found that the composite made from faces shown with traits referring to high social desirability, was rated as significantly more trustworthy. We propose that exposure to faces and acquisition of socially relevant information shape facial prototypes, ensuring that the evaluation of unknown individuals reflects expectations based on real-life experiences. We further propose that this process is mediated by the generalization of behavior information and facial features, rather than the detection of visual similarity.
Current Psychology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 4, 2016
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