Perceiving Aggression from Facial Structure: Further Evidence for a Positive Association with Facial Width-to-Height Ratio and Masculinity, but not for Moderation by Self-Reported Dominance



Recent work has indicated that individual differences in facial structure are linked to perceptions of aggressiveness. In particular, the relative width of a face [facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR)] has been suggested to be a reliable cue to aggressive behaviour, at least in men. Additionally, facial masculinity has been associated with perceptions of dominance, a close proxy of aggressiveness. In two studies, we assessed the robustness of this link using faces transformed along these vectors in men (Studies 1 and 2) and women (Study 2). Additionally, we examined whether individual differences in self-reported dominance of perceivers moderated this association in order to extend previous work indicating that own dominance affects perception of such behaviour in others. Results indicated that both male and female faces with increased fWHR and increased facial masculinity were perceived as more aggressive. However, we found no systematic evidence for moderating effects of self-reported dominance on the perception of aggression in others. Taken together, these results further support the robustness of fWHR and facial masculinity as cues to aggressiveness but question whether observers' own dominance moderates their perception of these cues in others. Copyright © 2013 European Association of Personality Psychology