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Donna Bridge, Zhang Li, Michelle Tsao, Joan Chiao; Universality and cultural specificity in social dominance perception: Effects of gender and culture on facial judgments. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):13. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.13.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
People are able to rapidly infer social dominance from facial cues. What aspects of social dominance perception are universal and culturally-specified? In this experiment, participants viewed greyscale images of Caucasian and Chinese male and female facial postures, varying in eye gaze direction (i.e. direct or averted) and vertical head orientation (i.e. up, straight or down), followed by a greyscale mask. Presentation duration was parametrically varied (i.e. 17ms, 33ms, 68ms, 167ms, unlimited) and participants were asked to judge how dominant each face seemed on a Likert scale of 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much). All groups of participants judged male faces as significantly more dominant to female faces. By contrast, Caucasian-American and native-born Chinese participants judged own-culture faces as significantly more dominant relative to other-culture faces. Interestingly, Chinese participants living in America did not show a significant difference in judgments of social dominance for Chinese and Caucasian faces. Hence, the effect of gender on perceived social dominance did not vary across groups of participants; however, culture had a significant effect on perceived social dominance such that faces of one's own cultural group were perceived as more dominant relative to faces of individuals from another culture, except in participants with a bicultural identity who perceived faces of both cultures as equally dominant. These results reveal both universality and cultural specificity in facial judgments of social dominance.
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