Visual Assessment of Personality Traits Depending on Changes in Facial Configuration

  • Vladimir А. Barabanschikov State University of Psychology and Education
  • Irina I. Besprozvannaya Perception” Center for Practical Psychology, Moscow
  • Krisitna I. Ananyeva Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis
Keywords: Perception of facial expressions, emotional expression, individual psychological features, transformations of facial configuration, induced emotions, observer’s self-perception, personal profiles, overgeneralization, communicant’s image, self-concept


Introduction. The study examines the relationship between facial configuration and assessing personality traits. Objective determinants of interpersonal perception, such as facial types, a model’s age and gender, the mode and duration of exposure of facial photographs, etc., are well elaborated in domestic and foreign studies. However, questions remain about how facial structure and also the observer's personality characteristics determine the perception of individual psychological characteristics through facial photographs.

Methods. The study employed the comparative analysis of evaluations of individual psychological characteristics by facial photographs by the scales of the Personal Differential Questionnaire in combination with multidirectional transformations of photographs of neutral faces.

Results. A systematic variation of four configuration variables – location of the mouth and eyes, nose length, and pupillary distance – not only causes weak persistent impressions of joy or sadness, but also changes ideas about individual psychological traits. The induced joy was associated with the positive poles of the scales of the Personal Differential Questionnaire; the induced sadness was associated with the negative poles of its scales. Directional transformations had different impacts on ideas about the components of the implicit structure of personality – evaluation, potency, and activity. Extraversion was more often associated with female faces, while the perceived dominance/subordination – with male faces. The observed patterns modified under the influence of facial morphotypes and the observer’s self-assessment.

Discussion. The research findings confirm an overgeneralization of weak emotional states when perceiving neutral faces and indicate a close association between overgeneralization and the observer’s self-concept.

In conclusion: a multidirectional variation of the configuration variables of emotionally neutral faces selectively affects the perception of personality traits. The observer’s sympathy/antipathy and also his/her individual psychological features play a special role in assessing the personality characteristics through facial expressions.


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How to Cite
BarabanschikovV. А., Besprozvannaya, I. I., & Ananyeva, K. I. (2017). Visual Assessment of Personality Traits Depending on Changes in Facial Configuration. Russian Psychological Journal, 14(4), 49-77.
Psychology of personality