Static and Dynamic Facial Cues Differentially Affect the Consistency of Social Evaluations

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2015 Aug;41(8):1123-34. doi: 10.1177/0146167215591495. Epub 2015 Jun 18.


Individuals are quite sensitive to others' appearance cues when forming social evaluations. Cues such as facial emotional resemblance are based on facial musculature and thus dynamic. Cues such as a face's structure are based on the underlying bone and are thus relatively static. The current research examines the distinction between these types of facial cues by investigating the consistency in social evaluations arising from dynamic versus static cues. Specifically, across four studies using real faces, digitally generated faces, and downstream behavioral decisions, we demonstrate that social evaluations based on dynamic cues, such as intentions, have greater variability across multiple presentations of the same identity than do social evaluations based on static cues, such as ability. Thus, although evaluations of intentions vary considerably across different instances of a target's face, evaluations of ability are relatively fixed. The findings highlight the role of facial cues' consistency in the stability of social evaluations.

Keywords: face perception; impression formation; non-verbal cues; social evaluation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cues*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Facial Recognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Social Perception*