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Title: The effect of static facial cues and cosmetics on social judgements
Author: Jones, Alex Lee
ISNI:       0000 0004 5365 5051
Awarding Body: Prifysgol Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2014
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The human face is one of the most significant stimuli we encounter, and carries a wealth of information regarding socially relevant traits. Previous research has begun to demonstrate that the face displays an array of cues or signals to social traits that others are able to detect. Moreover, the use of cosmetics by females can alter perceptions of social traits. In the current thesis, I demonstrate that both facial shape, skin texture, and viewing angle contribute to the accurate detection of personality traits and physical health from the static, neutral face. The right side of the face affords greater accuracy for personality traits than the left, while facial shape and texture contribute differently to different traits. Consistent with previous literature, we find that skin texture is all that is necessaty to accurately perceive health, and that this information is available from anywhere in the face. I further investigate the accurate detection of personality in female faces, and whether the everyday practice of cosmetics application has any effect on this accuracy. Results indicate that cosmetics do not affect perceptions of actual personality traits, but that perceptions are shifted towards the ideal personality of the wearer. Cosmetics have greater effects on perceptions of social traits, rather than accurate detection. I examined sex differences in perceptions of various social traits in faces of females with and without cosmetics, finding that males generally think females appear more socially desirable without cosmetics, while female observers demonstrate an opposite pattern. Expanding upon this, I also illustrate than females wear an excess of cosmetics for optimal perceptions of traits related to attractiveness. Furthermore, I show that perceptions of attractiveness with cosmetics are generally lower for males across all ages. Popular and conventional accounts suggest that cosmetics are used to attract mates, but the evidence presented here suggests they are failing. I provide the first evidence that the use of cosmetics may be miscalibrated towards a false ideal - females may be applying cosmetics for mistaken ideas regarding male preferences, when in fact, males prefer significantly lower amounts of cosmetics than a normal application results in. Surprisingly, we show that this mistaken belief also extends to males themselves, who feel other males are different to themselves. Typical cosmetics application enhances sex differences in facial contrasts. I further investigated sex differences in skin colouration across multiple samples, and demonstrate how an application of cosmetics acts upon these differences, as well as adding desirable colour properties to faces. Overall, the current thesis further expands the body of literature demonstrating that facial skin plays a role in social cognition, and demonstrates the various ways that cosmetics act upon this feature to alter such perceptions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available