DOI: 10.1177/19485506231193180 ISSN:

Shifts in Facial Impression Structures Across Group Boundaries

Youngki Hong, Jonathan B. Freeman
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology

Facial impressions have long been argued to be driven by two independent dimensions of trustworthiness and dominance. However, in an intergroup context, we reasoned that these dimensions may shift predictably and become more positively related for ingroup members, yet negatively related for outgroup members, due to dominance signaling outgroup threat and/or ingroup prosociality. In two studies, we examined how the two dimensions shift across minimal group boundaries for White targets. In Study 1, core dimensions of trustworthiness and dominance became intertwined with each other differently for ingroup and outgroup targets. In Study 2, stronger stereotypic beliefs that trustworthiness ≈ dominance for ingroup than outgroup mediated the shifts in facial impression dimensions. This work advances our understanding of facial impression and intergroup bias by showing that the facial impression dimensions are not fixed but may shift across group boundaries and that such shifts occur above and beyond simple ingroup favoritism.

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