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Facial Features May Predict Volatility

A new study suggests facial structure may give a hint of an individual’s tendency toward aggression.

In other words, verbal abuse and gestures are not the only way to get a sense of a person’s temperament.

The new study is found in the journal Psychological Science.

Facial width-to-height ratio (WHR) is determined by measuring the distance between the right and left cheeks and the distance from the upper lip to the mid-brow.

During childhood, boys and girls have similar facial structures, but during puberty, males develop a greater WHR than females. Previous research has suggested that males with a larger WHR act more aggressively than those with a smaller WHR.

For example, studies have shown that hockey players with greater WHR earn more penalty minutes per game than players with lower WHR.

Psychologists Justin M. Carré, Cheryl M. McCormick, and Catherine J. Mondloch of Brock University conducted an experiment to see if it is possible to predict another person’s propensity for aggressive behavior simply by looking at their photograph.

Volunteers viewed photographs of faces of men for whom aggressive behavior was previously assessed in the lab. The volunteers rated how aggressive they thought each person was on a scale of one to seven after viewing each face for either 2000 milliseconds or 39 milliseconds.

The photographs were very revealing: Volunteers’ estimates of aggression correlated highly with the actual aggressive behavior of the faces viewed, even if they saw the picture for only 39 milliseconds.

Even more interestingly, the volunteers’ estimates were also highly correlated with WHR of the faces—the greater the WHR, the higher the aggressive rating, suggesting that we may use this aspect of facial structure to judge potential aggression in others.

These findings indicate that subtle differences in face shape may affect personality judgments, which may, in turn, guide how we respond to certain individuals.

Source: American Psychological Association

Facial Features May Predict Volatility

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Facial Features May Predict Volatility. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 14, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/02/facial-features-may-predict-volatility/9271.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.