December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Integrating faces and bodies in social trait perception
Author Affiliations
  • Ying Hu
    State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • Alice O'Toole
    The University of Texas at Dallas, USA
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3942. doi:
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      Ying Hu, Alice O'Toole; Integrating faces and bodies in social trait perception. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3942.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Faces and bodies spontaneously elicit social trait judgments such as trustworthiness and laziness (Oosterhof & Todorov, 2008; Hu et al., 2018). We examined how first impressions formed by viewing the face and body contribute to the overall impression formed by seeing the whole person (Experiment 1), and how seeing the whole person affects first impressions of the face and body (Experiment 2). First, participants assigned personality traits to images of faces, bodies, and whole persons. Multivariate analyses (Correspondence Analysis and Linear Regressions) showed that the relative contribution of faces and bodies to whole-person perception depended on the specific trait being judged. Using the Big Five framework, faces primarily informed judgments about traits related to agreeableness (e.g., warm, aggressive, 48% explained variance, EV); bodies informed conscientiousness traits (e.g., dependable, careless, 23% EV); and whole persons informed extraversion traits (e.g., dominant, quiet, 15% EV). A control experiment showed that both clothing and body shapes contribute to whole-person first impressions. These results highlight the need to understand face and body perception in the context of the whole person. Second, participants rated personalities of the same faces (bodies) in isolation, and subsequently, in the whole person context. When trait ratings assigned to the face or body differed, the ratings of a contextualized face (body) were biased towards the ratings of the body (face) in the whole-person context (p < .001 for both face and body), supporting the face-body integration theory (Hu et al., 2020). Finally, to understand face-body integration in trait perception, we propose a framework that incorporates the processes of visual perception, stereotyping, and trait inferences/integration with predictive factors (raters, ratees, and situations). This study offers a first investigation of the relationship among trait perceptions of faces, bodies, and whole persons and lays the groundwork for understanding trait inferences in person perception.


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