Do you see what I see? A Cross-cultural Comparison of Social Impressions of Faces

AbstractResearch has suggested that social impressions of faces made by Western and Eastern people have different underlying dimensionalities. However, the individual level consistency, the group-level agreement of rater groups, and the interactions between face ethnicity, rater ethnicity, and social impression traits remain largely unknown. In this paper, we perform a large-scale data-driven cross-cultural study of facial impressions, and illustrate the idiosyncrasies and similarities behind Caucasian and Asian participants in their social impressions of faces from both ethnicity groups. Our study illustrates multiple interesting findings: (1) Asians rate faces lower on most positive traits, compared with Caucasian raters, and they have more diverse opinions than Caucasians. (2) Caucasian faces receive higher average ratings on social impression traits related to warmth due to the preponderance of smiles in Caucasian images, but similar mean scores on traits related to capability, compared to Asian faces. (3) Caucasians and Asians disagree most on capability related traits, especially on ``responsible'' and ``successful.'' Opinions on these two traits diverge more on Asian than on Caucasian faces. Our findings provide new insights on the nuances of cross-cultural differences in social impressions of faces.

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