On the meaning and implications of facial prominence


Archer et al. (1983) found that visual depictions (e.g., photographs) of men tend to show more face and less of the body (a characteristic that was termed high face-ism) than visual depictions of women. Furthermore, photographs (of both men and women) high in face-ism elicited more favorable impressions than photographs low in face-ism. The present studies examined possible reasons for sex differences in face-ism and their implications concerning the effects of high and low face-ism on interpersonal perception. Study 1 showed that the greater face-ism in photographs of men was less pronounced when the photographs were taken from periodicals that are oriented toward women's issues. Study 2 showed that photographs high in face-ism received higher ratings on dominance, a dimension related to masculinity, but not on positivity, a dimension related to femininity. This study also indicated that facial expressions provided more information about degrees of positivity while body cues provided more information about dominance and submission. Consistent with these latter results, Study 3 showed that amateur drawings portraying kind or hostile persons showed more of the face while drawings presenting dominant or weak persons showed more of the body. The two phenomena—the relationship of high face-ism with impressions of high dominance and the different types of information transmitted by the face and body—were considered in the discussion.

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Correspondence to Mr. Miron Zuckerman.

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The author would like to express his appreciation to Diana R. Satin and BiancaMaria (Mia) Penati for their assistance with this project.

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Zuckerman, M. On the meaning and implications of facial prominence. J Nonverbal Behav 10, 215–229 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00987481

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  • Social Psychology
  • Facial Expression
  • High Dominance
  • Visual Depiction
  • Favorable Impression