Current Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 112–120 | Cite as

Once Upon a Face: the Effect of Eye Size, Observer and Stimulus Gender on Impression Formation

  • Gabriela Gonçalves
  • Alexandra Gomes
  • Maria Clara Ferrão
  • Tiago Parreira
  • Joana Vieira dos Santos
  • Jean-Christophe Giger
  • Ana Teresa MartinsEmail author


Initial attraction is one of several factors that influence the ability to form an impression. Attraction is related to physical beauty, implying that we all tend to evaluate attractiveness based on the same characteristics. Adults with larger eyes are perceived as more attractive and receive more positive evaluations. Our purpose was to examine whether eye size would influence warmth and competence because the stereotype content model differs in predictions of attraction. We further analyzed the effect of the observer and stimulus gender on the assessment of warmth and competence. To this end, we tested 360 participants in an experimental visual task, according to a 3 (eye size: small vs. medium vs. large) × 2 (stimulus gender: female vs. male) × 2 (observer gender: female vs. male) factorial design. Our results lend support to the idea that larger eyes lead to more positive perceptions of warmth and competence. However, only the warmth dimension is affected by the observer and stimulus gender. The results are discussed in light of current research in the field of social cognition.


Eye Size Gender Impression Formation Attraction Warmth Competence 



This research was partially financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology (Portugal). The authors would like to acknowledge the reviewers and to Professor Jacques-Philippe Leyens for their constructive comments and feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriela Gonçalves
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexandra Gomes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maria Clara Ferrão
    • 1
  • Tiago Parreira
    • 1
  • Joana Vieira dos Santos
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jean-Christophe Giger
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana Teresa Martins
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Psychology and Educational Sciences DepartmentUniversity of AlgarveGambelasPortugal
  2. 2.CIEO Research Centre for Spatial and Organizational DynamicsFaroPortugal
  3. 3.CBME Centre for Molecular and Structural BiomedicineUniversidade do AlgarveFaroPortugal

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