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Facial discrimination: A social bias perspective on first impressions

On November 18 Bastian Jaeger (PhD, Associate Professor, Tilburg University, The Netherlands) took part in the "Culture matters" research seminar with the report "Facial discrimination: A social bias perspective on first impressions".

People spontaneously judge a person’s character based on their facial appearance. Even though personality impressions from faces are generally inaccurate, they influence many consequential decisions such as interpersonal trust, criminal sentencing, and voting behavior. This overreliance on first impressions can lead to worse outcomes for decision-makers and systematic discrimination against people with a certain appearance. Whereas the biasing effects of first impressions are well documented, little is known about the underlying mechanism. In the first part of the report, there was an outline of how cognitive (lay personality beliefs) and metacognitive (processing fluency) factors contribute to the persistent influence of first impressions. In the second part, there were the results of two intervention studies which aimed at reducing the influence of first impressions.