JC Main, BC Jones, LM DeBruine & AC Little (2009). Integrating gaze direction and sexual dimorphism of face shape when perceiving the dominance of others. Perception, 38(9): 1275-1283. doi: 10.1068/p6347

Although gaze direction and face shape have each been shown to affect perceptions of others’ dominance, studies have not yet investigated whether gaze direction and face shape have independent main effects on perceptions of dominance, or if these effects interact. To investigate this issue, we compared dominance ratings of faces with masculinized shapes and direct gaze, masculinized shapes and averted gaze, feminized shapes and direct gaze, and feminized shapes and averted gaze. While faces with direct gaze were generally rated as more dominant than those with averted gaze, this effect of gaze direction was greater when judging faces with masculinized shapes than when judging faces with feminized shapes. Additionally, faces with masculinized shapes were rated as more dominant than those with feminized shapes when faces were presented with direct gaze, but not when faces were presented with averted gaze. Collectively, these findings reveal an interaction between the effects of gaze direction and sexually dimorphic facial cues on judgments of others’ dominance, presenting novel evidence for the existence of complex integrative processes that underpin social perception of faces. Integrating information from face shape and gaze cues may increase the efficiency with which we perceive others’ dominance.

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