Holzleitner IJ, Jones A, Shiramizu VKM, O'Shea KJ, Fasolt V, Jones BC & DeBruine LM (2021). Do 3D face images capture cues of strength, weight, and height better than 2D face images do? Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 7: 209-219. doi: 10.1007/s40750-021-00170-8 [prereg] [preprint] [data]

Objectives: A large literature exists investigating the extent to which physical characteristics (e.g., strength, weight, and height) can be accurately assessed from face images. While most of these studies have employed two-dimensional (2D) face images as stimuli, some recent studies have used three-dimensional (3D) face images because they may contain cues not visible in 2D face images. As equipment required for 3D face images is considerably more expensive than that required for 2D face images, we here investigated how perceptual ratings of physical characteristics from 2D and 3D face images compare. Methods: We tested whether 3D face images capture cues of strength, weight, and height better than 2D face images do by directly comparing the accuracy of strength, weight, and height ratings of 182 2D and 3D face images taken simultaneously. Strength, height and weight were rated by 66, 59 and 52 raters respectively, who viewed both 2D and 3D images. Results: In line with previous studies, we found that weight and height can be judged somewhat accurately from faces; contrary to previous research, we found that people were relatively inaccurate at assessing strength. We found no evidence that physical characteristics could be judged more accurately from 3D than 2D images. Conclusion: Our results suggest physical characteristics are perceived with similar accuracy from 2D and 3D face images. They also suggest that the substantial costs associated with collecting 3D face scans may not be justified for research on the accuracy of facial judgments of physical characteristics. Keywords: Accuracy; Attributions; Face perception; Formidability.

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