The Face–Time Continuum

Lifespan Changes in Facial Width-to-Height Ratio Impact Aging-Associated Perceptions

Eric Hehman, Jordan B. Leitner, Jonathan Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Aging influences how a person is perceived on multiple dimensions (e.g., physical power). Here we examined how facial structure informs these evolving social perceptions. Recent work examining young adults’ faces has revealed the impact of the facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) on perceived traits, such that individuals with taller, thinner faces are perceived to be less aggressive, less physically powerful, and friendlier. These perceptions are similar to those stereotypically associated with older adults. Examining whether fWHR might contribute to these changing perceptions over the life span, we found that age provides a shifting context through which fWHR differentially impacts aging-related social perceptions (Study 1). In addition, archival analyses (Study 2) established that fWHR decreases across age, and a subsequent study found that fWHR mediated the relationship between target age and multiple aging-related perceptions (Study 3). The findings provide evidence that fWHR decreases across age and influences stereotypical perceptions that change with age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1624-1636
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume40
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 24 2014

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Social Perception
Young Adult
Power (Psychology)

Keywords

  • aging
  • bizygomatic width
  • face perception
  • impression formation
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Cite this

The Face–Time Continuum : Lifespan Changes in Facial Width-to-Height Ratio Impact Aging-Associated Perceptions. / Hehman, Eric; Leitner, Jordan B.; Freeman, Jonathan.

In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 40, No. 12, 24.12.2014, p. 1624-1636.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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