Forming impressions: effects of facial expression and gender stereotypes
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The present study of 138 participants explored how facial expressions and gender stereotypes influence impressions. It was predicted that images of smiling women would be evaluated more favorably on traits reflecting warmth, and that images of non-smiling men would be evaluated more favorably on traits reflecting competence. As predicted, smiling female faces were rated as more warm; however, contrary to prediction, perceived competence of male faces was not affected by facial expression. Participants’ female stereotype endorsement was a significant predictor for evaluations of female faces; those who ascribed more strongly to traditional female stereotypes reported the most positive impressions of female faces displaying a smiling expression. However, a similar effect was not found for images of men; endorsement of traditional male stereotypes did not predict participants’ impressions of male faces.