Ecological and Social Approaches to Face Perception

Leslie A. Zebrowitz

in Oxford Handbook of Face Perception

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559053
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Ecological and Social Approaches to Face Perception

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This article provides an ecological theory of face perception that elucidates the basis of the various perceptions. It then reviews research on first impressions elicited by facial qualities that are associated with fitness, emotion, race, age, and sex, in each case making links to ecological theory. It aims to identify facial qualities that inform social perceptions and reflect the zeitgeist at the time in social psychology. The emphasis is on understanding the cognitive mechanisms engaged in social perception, and this is typically accomplished by providing information about social qualities in lists of trait words. The article demonstrates face perception research pertinent to the detection of socially relevant qualities in faces—attractiveness, emotions, race, age, and sex—as well as associated behavioral affordances, which have typically been assessed by trait ratings.

Keywords: ecological theory; face perception; facial qualities; behavioral affordances; cognitive mechanisms

Article.  11501 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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