Seminar Series

A Variant Impression Formation Space Across Social Categories

Recent findings in impression formation research have called into question the consistency of face impressions across different social groups. Does the way in which we form impressions of people from different groups vary by social category? Why? My talk will focus on two series of studies that examine this question with different approaches. The first partitions overall variance into that attributable to the perceiver and target, revealing meaningful differences in how much the target contributes depending on social category. The second tested how well a dominant model in the field fit and generalized across different race × gender groups. Using a variety of confirmatory and exploratory techniques, results revealed that models fit poorly across all groups, indicating that current models of impression formation may be oversimplifying a highly complex space. Critical to our central question, the face-trait space varied meaningfully across different race × gender social categories. Revealing why these models might be different across groups, we find that these race × gender differences were partially explained by the stereotypic associations with each social category, providing some early evidence that top-down categorical information shifts the featural face-trait space.