Sequential effects in judgements of attractiveness: the influences of face race and sex

Kramer, R.S.S., Jones, A.L. and Sharma, D. (2013) Sequential effects in judgements of attractiveness: the influences of face race and sex. PLoS ONE, 8 (12). 0082226. ISSN 1932-6203

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In perceptual decision-making, a person's response on a given trial is influenced by their response on the immediately preceding trial. This sequential effect was initially demonstrated in psychophysical tasks, but has now been found in more complex, real-world judgements. The similarity of the current and previous stimuli determines the nature of the effect, with more similar items producing assimilation in judgements, while less similarity can cause a contrast effect. Previous research found assimilation in ratings of facial attractiveness, and here, we investigated whether this effect is influenced by the social categories of the faces presented. Over three experiments, participants rated the attractiveness of own- (White) and other-race (Chinese) faces of both sexes that appeared successively. Through blocking trials by race (Experiment 1), sex (Experiment 2), or both dimensions (Experiment 3), we could examine how sequential judgements were altered by the salience of different social categories in face sequences. For sequences that varied in sex alone, own-race faces showed significantly less opposite-sex assimilation (male and female faces perceived as dissimilar), while other-race faces showed equal assimilation for opposite- and same-sex sequences (male and female faces were not differentiated). For sequences that varied in race alone, categorisation by race resulted in no opposite-race assimilation for either sex of face (White and Chinese faces perceived as dissimilar). For sequences that varied in both race and sex, same-category assimilation was significantly greater than opposite-category. Our results suggest that the race of a face represents a superordinate category relative to sex. These findings demonstrate the importance of social categories when considering sequential judgements of faces, and also highlight a novel approach for investigating how multiple social dimensions interact during decision-making.

Keywords:Sequential effects, Face perception, Race, Sex, Attractiveness, Assimilation effects, Contrast effects
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C830 Experimental Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:29113
Deposited On:17 Oct 2017 12:41

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