First impressions are largely influenced by our faces

Approachable? Intelligent? People’s responses to 1,000 photographs were used to build the model. Whether it’s a curled lip or a keen cheekbone, we all make quick social judgements based on strangers’ faces.

Now scientists have modelled the specific physical attributes that underpin our first impressions. Small changes in the dimensions of a face can make it appear more trustworthy, dominant or attractive. The results, published in the journal PNAS, could help film animators or anyone looking to create an instant impression on a social network.

Dr Tom Hartley, a neuroscientist at the University of York and the study’s senior author, said the work added mathematical detail to a well-known phenomenon.

“If people are forming these first impressions, just based on looking at somebody’s face, what is it about the image of the face that’s giving that impression – can we measure it exactly?”

Three key dimensions of a first impression

  • Approachability: how likely is this person to help (or hinder) me?
  • Dominance: how capable is this person of carrying out those intentions?
  • Attractiveness: is this person young and good looking – a potential romantic partner?

Positive first impressions are especially important in a world dominated by social media, from LinkedIn to Tinder.

Read more…

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28512781