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Inferring Whether Officials Are Corruptible From Looking At Their Faces

Lin, Chujun and Adolphs, Ralph and Alvarez, R. Michael (2018) Inferring Whether Officials Are Corruptible From Looking At Their Faces. Psychological Science, 29 (11). pp. 1807-1823. ISSN 0956-7976 .

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While inferences of traits from unfamiliar faces prominently reveal stereotypes, some facial inferences also correlate with real-world outcomes. We investigated whether facial inferences are associated with an important real-world outcome closely linked to the face bearer’s behavior: political corruption. In four preregistered studies (N = 325), participants made trait judgments of unfamiliar government officials on the basis of their photos. Relative to peers with clean records, federal and state officials convicted of political corruption (Study 1) and local officials who violated campaign finance laws (Study 2) were perceived as more corruptible, dishonest, selfish, and aggressive but similarly competent, ambitious, and masculine (Study 3). Mediation analyses and experiments in which the photos were digitally manipulated showed that participants’ judgments of how corruptible an official looked were causally influenced by the face width of the stimuli (Study 4). The findings shed new light on the complex causal mechanisms linking facial appearances with social behavior.

Item Type:Article
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Adolphs, Ralph0000-0002-8053-9692
Additional Information:© 2018 by Association for Psychological Science. Received: September 25, 2017; Accepted: June 03, 2018; Article first published online: September 12, 2018.
Subject Keywords:face perception, corruption, social attribution, stereotyping, political psychology, open data, open materials, preregistered
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180912-112657269
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Official Citation:Lin, C., Adolphs, R., & Michael Alvarez, R. (2018). Inferring Whether Officials Are Corruptible From Looking at Their Faces. Psychological Science, 29(11), 1807–1823.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:89574
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Sep 2018 18:33
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 20:17

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