First impressions from faces in dynamic approach–avoidance contexts

Trifonova, Iliyana V. ORCID:, McCall, Cade, Fysh, Matthew C., Bindemann, Markus and Burton, A. Mike (2024) First impressions from faces in dynamic approach–avoidance contexts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 50 (6). pp. 570-586. ISSN 0096-1523

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Theoretical understanding of first impressions from faces has been closely associated with the proposal that rapid approach–avoidance decisions are needed during social interactions. Nevertheless, experimental work has rarely examined first impressions of people who are actually moving—instead extrapolating from photographic images. In six experiments, we describe the relationship between social attributions (dominance and trustworthiness) and the motion and apparent intent of a perceived person. We first show strong correspondence between judgments of photos and avatars of the same people (Experiment 1). Avatars were rated as more dominant and trustworthy when walking toward the viewer than when stationary (Experiment 2). Furthermore, avatars approaching the viewer were rated as more dominant than those avoiding (walking past) the viewer, or remaining stationary (Experiment 3). Trustworthiness was increased by movement, but not affected by approaching/avoiding paths. Surprisingly, dominance ratings increased both when avatars were approaching and being approached (Experiments 4–6), independently of agency. However, diverging movement (moving backward) reduced dominance ratings—again independently of agency (Experiment 6). These results demonstrate the close link between dominance judgments and approach and show the updatable nature of first impressions—their formation depended on the immediate dynamic context in a more subtle manner than previously suggested.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: This work was funded by a research grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/S010181/1) to Markus Bindemann, A. Mike Burton, and Cade McCall. Data from all experiments are available at ufxj5/. Publisher Copyright: © 2024 The Author(s)
Uncontrolled Keywords: approach–avoidance,face perception,first impressions,trait judgments,virtual environment,experimental and cognitive psychology,arts and humanities (miscellaneous),behavioral neuroscience ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3200/3205
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2024 11:34
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2024 08:31
DOI: 10.1037/xhp0001197


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