Understanding the correlates of appearance-based discrimination

Project in LISS Call 2018
Lead researcher: Bastian Jaeger (TiU)

Despite their generally poor accuracy, personality impressions based on facial appearance influence a wide range of behaviors, such as criminal sentencing, voting, personnel selection, and social exchange. A possible explanation for this is that people are lay physiognomists: they believe that a person’s character is reflected in their facial features. Two recent studies among Dutch psychology students showed that belief in physiognomy is relatively common and that belief strength correlates with reliance on personality impressions.

In this study, physiognomic belief will be examined in a larger, more representative sample (N = 2,500). First, this will allow for a more precise estimate of the prevalence of physiognomic beliefs in the general population. Second, the researchers will map the correlates of physiognomic beliefs, by examining whether individual differences in belief strength correlate with (a) other facets of lay personality theory, (b) key socio-demographic variables, and (c) a variety of other personality and background variables already assessed in the panel.

Image: Della Porta, De humana physiognomonia libri IIII via Wellcome Collection CC BY 4.0