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Title: The face of research : do first impressions based on the facial appearance of scientists affect the selection and evaluation of science communication?
Author: Gheorghiu, A. I.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 2374
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2017
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First impressions based on facial appearance alone predict a large number of important social outcomes in areas of interest to the general public, such as politics, justice and economics. The current project aims to expand these findings to science communication, investigating both the impressions that the public forms of a scientist based on their facial appearance, and the impact that these impressions may have on the public’s selection and evaluation of the research conducted by the scientist in question. First, we investigated what social judgement traits predict looking like a “good scientist” (someone who does high-quality research) and an “interesting scientist” (someone whose research people show interest in). Three studies showed that looking competent and moral were positively related to both looking like a good scientist and to interest ratings, whereas looking physically attractive positively predicted being perceived as a scientist with higher interest ratings, but was negatively related to looking like a good scientist. Subsequently, we investigated whether these perceptions translated into real-life consequences. Three studies examined the impact of first impressions on the public’s choice of scientific communications, and found that people were more likely to choose real science news stories to read or watch when they were paired with scientists high on interest judgements. Another three studies looked at whether the appearance of the researcher influenced people’s evaluations of real science news stories . We found that people judged the research to be of higher quality when it was associated with “good” scientists. Our findings illustrate novel insights into the social psychology of science communication, and flag a potential source of bias in the dissemination of scientific findings to the general public, stemming solely from the facial appearance of the scientist.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology