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. We used two different tests to investigate 1) the effect of sexual dimorphism of face shape on the perceived dominance of direct versus averted gaze and 2) the effect of gaze direction on the perceived dominance of masculinized versus feminized faces. In the first test, we found that the extent to which direct gaze was perceived as more dominant than averted gaze was greater when judging masculinized faces than when judging feminized faces. In the second test, we found that the extent to which masculinity was perceived as more dominant than femininity was greater when judging male faces with direct gaze than when judging male faces with averted gaze. No equivalent effect was found for female faces. Collectively, these findings show 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.
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