What are first impressions based on? Why lab experiments don’t give the answer
On October 28 Bastian Jaeger (PhD, Assistant Professor, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands) took part in the "Culture matters" research seminar with the report "What are first impressions based on? Why lab experiments don’t give the answer".
First impressions based on a person’s facial appearance influence many important decisions, such as criminal sentencing, voting, and personnel selection. But what makes a person appear trustworthy or dominant? In other words, which facial characteristics do people rely on when forming first impressions? Dozens (if not hundreds) of studies have been published on this topic, suggesting that people rely on various cues, such as facial width-to-height ratio, attractiveness, emotion resemblances, pupil size, and many more. The report argued that the majority of studies on this topic suffer from two shortcomings: poor external validity and unclear causality. Crucially, both shortcomings can lead to the emergence of false-positive results. The report presented the results from a study that used methods from machine learning to address these shortcomings to uncover which facial characteristics are actually central in impression formation.