INTRODUCTION Nonverbal communication, throughout history, has been central to human interaction, serving as a very distinct form of language that can be used to exchange various forms of information. One particular form of nonverbal communication, facial expression, has been a source of inquiry for both professional researchers and laypersons alike. The importance of studying facial expressions can be seen in everyday human interaction, in close relationships as well as in informal acquaintances. Although facial expressions can reveal a lot about who we are and what our intentions may be, they are also capable of hiding the very same information from those who surround us. Our ability to understand others, and the responses that we make to them, is based largely on our ability to effectively manipulate the nonverbal behavior, such as facial expression, that is presented in any interpersonal interaction. There is a long history that demonstrates that facial expressions play a central role in everyday social interaction, determining the success of our interactions as well as the social competence of an individual. There have been difficulties in studying nonverbal communication, however, which have included the ambiguity of various expressions, the fact that nonverbal communication is sometimes dictated by culture, and the fact that nonverbal expression was often comprised of various forms simultaneously, rather than just one measurable means of communication (King, 1997). Despite these hindrances, research in this field of study, although it has been primarily contemporary, has produced a great deal of knowledge in the subject of facial expression. According to Patterson (1984), it was in the 1960’s that systematic research on various forms of nonverbal communication was just beginning, with the volume of research steadily increasing in the years to follow. Not only was the research on general nonverbal communication expanding at this time, but information on facial expression was being collected as well. For instance, in studying facial expressions, researchers first speculated that they were culture-specific reactions that could not be universally applied, but eventually it was concluded that certain facial expressions of emotion are universal throughout the human race (Ekman & O’Sullivan, 1991). With the body of knowledge concerning facial expressions steadily growing, researchers began to show an increased interest in the relationship between facial expression and personal interaction, more specifically, the ability to decode various facial expressions. One’s ability to decode the facial expressions of others can be seen as a measure of social competence, in that such an ability would lead to increased awareness of others as well as producing a more accurate understanding of the situation as a whole. For this reason, many studies were completed in an attempt to better understand the skills of interpretation of facial expressions. One such study, conducted by Hess, Blairy, and Kleck (1997), involved the measurement of the influence of the intensity of the facial display of emotions on the accuracy with which the facial expressions were decoded. For this study, two men and two women all posed with angry, sad, disgusted, and happy faces, and six levels of intensity of these expressions were then created through a graphics “morphing” program, creating 96 stimulus pictures. Twelve men and twelve women each rated the 96 pictures on a computer program which enabled the participants to view the photographs for 5 seconds and then required them to rate the intensity of particular emotions, which included anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. A final scale asked participants to estimate how difficult it was to rate that particular expression. The results revealed that perceived intensity was positively correlated with the physical intensity of the pictured emotion and that decoding accuracy was also positively correlated with the intensity of the pictured emotion. Thus, the conclusions for this study were, in general, that the more intense the expression, the higher the intensity ratings on the target emotion scale and the more accurate the participants were in their recognition of the emotion that was presented. Much like this particular study, countless other studies have been conducted which included the examinations of facial expression decoding techniques and accuracy. Through this research, it was discovered that women were usually more accurate in decoding facial expressions of emotion than men, and that differences in the amount and intensity of one’s facial expressions was also gender related, with women more frequently expressing certain emotions than men, whether it was because of some innate expressive nature or due to socialization (Hall, 1984). One study that examined many common gender stereotypes in the expression of emotion, that people may have been socialized to accept, was conducted by Plant, Hyde, Keltner, and Devine (2000), and it included three very thorough studies of stereotypical feminine emotions, such as happiness, love, sadness, and sympathy, as well as stereotypical masculine emotions such as anger and pride. The first of the three studies conducted by Plant et al. (2000), which included an examination of cultural stereotypes, required the participants to complete a Cultural Stereotype Questionnaire and a Personal Beliefs Questionnaire. In the first questionnaire, participants were asked to rate the frequency with which men and women were stereotypically believed to experience and express various emotions, while the second questionnaire measured the participants’ personal beliefs about the frequency with which men and women experience and express those same emotions. The results from this first study indicated that men were stereotypically believed to experience and express anger and pride more frequently, while women were stereotypically believed to experience and express happiness, fear, love, sadness, and sympathy more often. The results from the Personal Beliefs Questionnaire were consistent with these cultural stereotypes. Thus, it was concluded that people were aware of, and generally endorsed, cultural stereotypes concerning the experience and expression of emotion. The second of the three studies by Plant et al. (2000), however, measured the influence of these stereotypes on the interpretation of emotional expression. This study examined the interpretation of men and women’s unambiguous and ambiguous expressions of anger and sadness. Slides were taken of two men and two women posing with two clear and two vague posed expressions of anger and sadness, and participants were asked to rate the extent to which four emotions were displayed: sadness, anger, contempt, and sympathy. Participants were then asked to complete the same Personal Beliefs Questionnaire that was used for the first study. The results indicated that the females were more often rated as sympathetic and sad, whereas the males were more often rated as angered or full of contempt, despite the fact that both sexes posed with the same facial expressions. Thus, the researchers concluded that the stereotypes held by individuals were generally consistent with their interpretation of emotional expression. The third and final study by Plant et al. (2000) measured the use of such stereotypes in the interpretation of infant behavior. The researchers assessed expectant parents’ gender stereotypes of emotions and their interpretations of infants’ emotional expression. The participants were shown a videotape of an infant, wearing gender-neutral clothing, who was reacting to a frustration stimulus. Before viewing the video, half of the participants were told that they were observing a little girl and half were told that they were observing a little boy. The participants were asked, after viewing the tape, to rate a series of emotions that were typically stereotyped as either feminine or masculine emotions such as happiness and anger. Participants then completed the Personal Beliefs Questionnaire. The results indicated that there was a positive correlation between the amount that participants endorsed gender stereotypes and the level with which stereotypical emotions were assigned to the infants based on perceived gender. The researchers therefore concluded that that those who strongly endorsed gender stereotypes were likely to stereotype the interpreted emotions of infants who were labeled as either “boy” or “girl”. The results from these three individual studies, therefore, indicated that people generally endorsed cultural gender stereotypes, that these stereotypes were consistent with their interpretation of emotional expression, and that those who strongly endorsed these stereotypes were likely to stereotype the interpreted emotions of infants based on assumed gender. It is only through such detailed studies that the gender differences in both the facial expression and interpretation of various emotions become most apparent and that our knowledge of nonverbal communication through facial expressions becomes greatly broadened. Aside from the research that has been conducted concerning gender differences, there have been great quantities of studies concerning the messages that are conveyed by various facial expressions. In one study by Hess, Blairy, and Kleck (2000), the influence of facial expression of emotion, as well as the influence of gender and ethnicity upon assessment of dominance and affiliation of those photographed were examined. Photographs were taken of two male and two female Japanese as well as two male and two female Caucasian stimulus persons each making facial expressions of happiness, anger, disgust, sadness, and fear. Various levels of intensity were created using a computer graphics program, which formed 120 different possible photographs. College students were each shown 20 stimulus pictures and were asked to rate these pictures on the Interpersonal Adjective Scales, which consisted of questions pertaining to the two personality characteristics. The results of this study demonstrated that gender and ethnicity had very limited effects on the assessment of dominance and affiliation of the persons in the photographs, while the intensity of the emotion that was pictured positively correlated with the levels of perceived dominance and affiliation. The researchers thus concluded that, while gender and ethnicity affected the attribution of dominant and affiliative traits, attribution was more dependent upon the intensity of the emotion being displayed. Other studies have taken the notion of attribution and examined the attribution of a wide variety of personality characteristics based on various facial expressions. One particular study, which was conducted by Otta, Abrosio, and Hoshino (1996), included an examination of the effects of various forms of smiling upon the attribution of various personality characteristics. Seventeen men and eighteen women in three age categories, which included young, middle-aged, and old, were photographed making a neutral expression, a closed smile, an upper smile, and a broad smile. A group of college undergraduates was then asked to rate the personality characteristics of the people in the photographs. Each participant was presented with only one photograph and asked to rate various personality characteristics of the person on 7-point scales. These characteristics included intelligence, kindness, attractiveness, happiness, extroversion, sympathy, submission, and ambition. The researchers found that certain positive characteristics were associated with smiling faces. Such characteristics as happiness, extroversion, sympathy, kindness, and attractiveness were all linked to smiling expressions, no matter what form of smile was observed. The conclusions of this study were, therefore, that certain characteristics were associated with smiling faces but that the degree to which the person was smiling had little effect on the attribution of these characteristics. Smiling has proven to be the focus of a great deal of research in the field of nonverbal communication. Another study, also conducted by Otta and colleagues (Otta, Lira, Delevati, Cesar, & Pires, 1994), examined the differences between various facial expressions and the attribution of personality characteristics. This study, however, incorporated head tilting into the experimental design. Much the same as the previously mentioned study, a woman and a man were photographed making either a closed, upper, or broad smile, as well as with a neutral expression. The male and the female were asked, however, to pose with their heads either upright or tilted at a 45-degree angle. This resulted in a total of 8 slides for both the male and the female stimulus. Undergraduate college students were then divided into groups of 10 and shown one of the photographs and asked to express their first impressions of the person shown in the picture by rating the stimulus person on adjectives such as optimism, conciliation, calmness, reliability, leadership, happiness, intelligence, attractiveness, beauty, sympathy, sincerity, and kindness on 7-point scales. The results were similar to the previously mentioned studies – smiling increased the incidence of favorable personality assessments. Head tilting, however, was shown to have only a minor effect on the modification of the perceived personality traits of the person in the photograph. It was concluded, therefore, that, while smiling in various degrees was positively correlated with positive personality characteristics, head tilting had only a very minor effect on the personality characteristics assigned to the persons in the photographs. One very interesting result that was produced by this study, however, included a difference in rating persons of the same gender – females rated the female stimulus with greater severity than they did the male stimulus. It was this information that led to the development of the present study. Until now, the studies that have been conducted, studies such as those just mentioned, have been relatively focused upon limited aspects of facial expressions. While one study examined decoding accuracy, another examined the interpretation of facial expressions, and yet another examined the effect of intensity of expression upon decoding accuracy. Although the list of studies concerning facial expressions is quite extensive, many limitations arise from factors that were not considered, such as the effect of gender on the interpretation of expressions. Thus, it was through the present study that the effects of gender of the observer, the type of facial expression observed, as well as the gender of those being observed, were combined and studied together, rather than separately. The objective of the present study was to determine whether the gender of an observer affected the manner in which personality characteristics were perceived or assigned based on the gender and the facial expressions of those being observed. Based upon the results of such previously mentioned research, it was hypothesized that a person would judge a member of the opposite sex more positively when assessing personality traits based on facial expressions than they would judge the personality traits of a member of the same sex. It was also hypothesized that the facial expression being rated would effect the evaluation of the personality characteristics of the person in the photograph, regardless of gender, with the smiling face and the neutral face receiving more positive ratings than the frowning face.
For this study, ninety students from the undergraduate division of Loyola University of New Orleans (45 males and 45 females) between the ages of 18 and 21 volunteered to participate. The participants, to the best of the experimenters’ knowledge, represented all racial/ethnic groups. They were recruited by the experimenters with the help of the students’ professors. This sample was a convenience sample because the participants who were recruited were easily accessible for the study.
The participants were first given two informed consent forms to fill out and sign which clearly summarized the purpose of the study and the tasks that were being asked of the participants. One of these forms was returned to the experimenters and the other form was kept by the participants for their own records. Participants in the study then received a survey packet, which included two photographs, one of a female and one of a male. For the photographs, a male and a female were obtained who were unfamiliar to the participants, and three pictures were taken of each. The photographs were taken in color, from the shoulders up to the top of the head, and they included three different facial expressions for both the male and the female – a smiling expression, a frowning expression, and a neutral expression. Both the male and female in the photographs were white and both were between the ages of 18 and 21. The survey packets included only one photograph of the female and one photograph of the male randomly paired, so that the participants were given any possible combination of facial expressions. Possible combinations included a smiling male and a smiling female, a smiling male and a frowning female, a smiling male and a neutral female, a frowning male and a smiling female, a frowning male and a frowning female, a frowning male and a neutral female, a neutral male and a smiling female, a neutral male and a frowning female, and a neutral male and a neutral female. These combinations made for a total of nine different survey packets to be given to the participants with any one group of combined pictures assigned to a single participant. In the survey packets, the participants were asked to provide the researchers with some demographic information, which included the age, sex, and race of the participants. These questions were followed by the two photographs, which were accompanied by a list of 10-point semantic differential scales pertaining to the personality characteristics of the persons in the photographs. An example of the questions from the survey can be found in Appendix A. The responses to the surveys were totaled for both the male and female pictures for each participant and the totals were then analyzed. The personality characteristics that were surveyed in the study included responsibility, optimism, attractiveness, sympathy, happiness, sincerity, kindness, calmness, reliability, and popularity.
Design and Procedure
This study was determined to be an experimental design because the various combinations of the photographs were randomly assigned to the participants and the effect of the photographs on the personality characteristics associated with the male and the female in the pictures could be measured. This experiment utilized a 2x2x3 mixed factorial design – the sex of the participants was either male or female (2), the sex of those in the photographs was either male or female (2), the expressions that were observed in the male and female photographs were either a smile, a frown, or a neutral expression (3). Although the gender was a variable that could not be actively manipulated, this variable was controlled for in the experiment when the researchers assigned a certain number of male and female participants to view each combination of photographs. Likewise, the gender of the male and the female in photographs was also controlled for when the researchers determined that each participant would view one photograph of a male and one photograph of a female. The independent variables of this study included the gender of the observer, the gender of those being observed, and the facial expressions of those being observed. The dependent variable was the types of personality characteristics assigned by the participants to those being observed. In this experiment, the independent variable of facial expressions was operationalized as either a smile, in which the corners of the mouth were raised and only the top row of teeth were visible, a frown, in which the corners of the mouth were lowered, the bottom lip protruded, and the eyebrows were slightly lowered, and a neutral face, in which the eyes and mouth were not moved at all and neither a smile nor a frown could be detected. The dependent variable, the personality characteristics assigned to those being observed, was operationalized by placing the characteristics on 10-point semantic differential scales and measuring the degree to which the participant felt that the person represented that characteristic. The variables that were controlled by the researchers included the random assignment of the photographs to the participants in a random order so that participants viewed no more than one photograph of the same individual. For this study, participants were tested in groups. Upon arrival at the testing location, the participants were seated comfortably and were given two informed consent forms to read and sign. One copy was returned to the experimenters and the other copy was kept by the participants for their own records. Once consent was obtained, the participants were handed the survey packets. They were asked not to put their name on the survey packets, because they were assigned numbered codes instead. Five females and five males received each of the nine possible combination packets, which resulted in a total of ninety participants. After viewing the photographs, the participants were asked to rate the personality characteristics of the male and the female separately on 10-point semantic differential scales. Personality characteristics that were rated were responsibility, optimism, attractiveness, sympathy, happiness, sincerity, kindness, calmness, reliability, and popularity. Once the participants completed the survey packet, they were debriefed concerning the specific purpose of the research experiment and any questions that they had about the survey were answered. They were also told that if they had any problems with the survey that they could contact the phone number listed at the top of the informed consent form. After the debriefing, participants were thanked for their participation in the study and were allowed to leave.
RESULTS The objective of the present study was to determine whether the gender of an observer affected the manner in which personality characteristics were perceived or assigned based on the gender and the facial expressions of those being observed. It was hypothesized that a person would judge a member of the opposite sex more positively when assessing these personality traits than they would judge the personality traits of a member of the same sex. It was also hypothesized that the facial expression being rated would affect the evaluation of the personality characteristics of the person in the photograph, regardless of gender, with the smiling face and the neutral faces receiving more positive ratings than the frowning faces. The primary hypothesis was examined with a 2x2x3 mixed factorial analysis of variance measuring the interaction between the gender of the participant, the gender of the person in the photograph, and the mean scores that were assigned to the smiling, neutral, and frowning male and female photographs. One interaction in particular compared the total mean scores assigned to the male photographs to the total mean scores assigned to the female photographs, regardless of the gender of the rater and the expressions being observed. There was found to be a statistical significance between these two means, F (1, 72) = 4.574, p = .036, with the mean score for the female photographs (60.4) being significantly greater than the mean score for the male photographs (57.367). Thus, overall, females were rated significantly higher than the males, regardless of the sex of the raters and the facial expressions that were observed. There was also a statistically significant interaction between the scores assigned to the smiling, neutral, and frowning male faces and the total mean score assigned to the female faces, F (2, 72) = 9.202, p < .001. The mean scores for the female faces increased as the mean scores for the male faces decreased for the smiling, neutral, and frowning conditions. The total mean score for the female faces when paired with the smiling male faces (58.167) was significantly lower than the mean score for the female faces when paired with the neutral male faces (60.9), and significantly lower than the mean score for the female faces when paired with the frowning male faces (62.13). Thus, as the male facial expression changed from smiling to neutral to frowning, the total mean score for the female photographs accompanying those male photographs increased significantly, regardless of the facial expression of the female photographs. A similar interaction occurred between the facial expressions of the female photographs and the total mean scores assigned to the accompanying male photographs. A statistically significant interaction was found, F (2, 72) = 28.10, p < .001. The total mean score for the male faces when accompanying the smiling female face (53.43) was significantly lower than the total mean score for the male faces when paired with the neutral female face (58.36) and significantly lower than the total mean score for the male faces when paired with the frowning female face (60.3). Thus, as the female facial expression changed from smiling to neutral to frowning, the total mean score for the male photographs accompanying those female photographs increased significantly, regardless of the facial expression of the male photographs. To examine the secondary hypothesis, the researchers analyzed the interaction between the facial expressions of the male and female photographs that were observed and the mean scores that were assigned by the male and female participants to those photographs. A one-way analysis of variance compared the mean scores assigned by the females to the female photographs. The results for the female ratings of the smiling, neutral, and frowning females were found to be statistically significant, F (2, 42) = 13.648,p < .001. LSD post hoc tests indicated that the mean score assigned by the females to the smiling female photographs (70.2) was significantly greater than the means for the neutral female photographs (61.6) and the frowning female photographs (50.73), and that the mean for the neutral female photographs was significantly greater than the mean for the frowning female photographs. Standard deviations were within twelve points of the mean scores for the smiling female photographs (SD = 8.6), the neutral photographs (SD = 11.12), and the frowning female photographs (SD = 10.7). Another one-way analysis of variance compared the mean scores assigned by the female participants to the male photographs. The results for the female ratings of the smiling, neutral, and frowning males were also found to be statistically significant, F (2, 42) = 11.286, p < .001. LSD post hoc tests indicated that the mean score assigned by the females to the smiling male photographs (66.33) was significantly greater than the mean for the frowning male photographs (50.26), and that the mean for the neutral male photographs (61.33) was also significantly greater than the mean for the frowning male photographs (50.26). However, the mean for the smiling male photographs did not significantly differ from the mean for the neutral male photographs. Standard deviations were within twelve points of the mean scores for the smiling male photographs (SD = 10.2), the neutral male photographs (SD = 11.1), and the frowning male photographs (SD = 6.4). The mean scores assigned by the male participants to the female photographs were then analyzed as well. The results for the male ratings of the smiling, neutral, and frowning females were found to be statistically significant, F (2, 42) = 15.30, p < .001. LSD post hoc tests indicated that the mean score assigned by the males to the smiling females (69.6) was significantly greater than the means for the neutral female photographs (59.46) and the frowning female photographs (50.8), and that the mean for the neutral female photographs was significantly greater than the mean for the frowning female photographs. The standard deviations were within eleven points of the mean scores for the smiling female photographs (SD = 8.7), the neutral female photographs (SD = 9.0), and the frowning female photographs (SD = 10.1). Finally, another one-way analysis of variance compared the mean scores assigned by the male participants to the male photographs. The results for the male ratings of the male photographs were not found to be statistically significant, F (2, 42), = 1.122, p = .335.
DISCUSSION For this study it was hypothesized that the male and female participants would rate the personality characteristics of a member of the opposite sex more positively than they would rate the personality characteristics of a member of the same sex. The results from the study demonstrated that facial expression and gender did affect the manner in which personality traits were assigned to the male and female photographs, but in a manner that was not predicted by the hypotheses. The primary hypothesis, that participants would rate a member of the opposite sex more positively than they would rate a member of the same sex, was supported for the male participants but was not supported for the female participants. These findings were due to the fact that the female photographs were rated more positively than the male photographs, regardless of the gender of the participant and regardless of the facial expression observed. Thus, overall, female ratings were significantly higher than the male ratings, for both male and female participants. The secondary hypothesis, that the smiling and neutral faces would be judged more positively than the frowning faces, regardless of gender, was supported by the female participants’ ratings of the male and female photographs and the male participants’ ratings of the female photographs. It was not supported, however, by the male participants’ ratings of the male photographs, where no significant difference was found between the mean scores for the smiling, neutral, and frowning conditions. The mean scores assigned by the male and female participants to the smiling and the neutral faces were found to be significantly greater than the mean scores assigned to the frowning faces for the female photographs and for the female participants’ ratings of the male photographs. In all, it could be concluded that significant results were obtained from this study which demonstrated that smiling and neutral facial expressions were generally seen as more positive than the frowning expressions, and that gender did affect the manner in which facial expressions were interpreted, with females being rated more positively than males regardless of the facial expressions that were observed. Similarities can be drawn between the present study and previously conducted research concerning facial expression. For instance, of many of these studies, most have been tested among college-aged students. For this reason, this particular study was very similar to these studies in its findings. For example, one study by Hess, Blairy and Kleck (2000) measured the influence of facial expressions of emotion, as well as gender, on the assessment of such personality characteristics as dominance and affiliation. College students rated the photographs using a computer graphics program and the results demonstrated that intensity of the emotion being displayed was positively correlated with levels of perceived dominance and affiliation. Gender of the observer, however, demonstrated very little effect on the results. Despite similarities in the samples that were used for both the study conducted by Hess et al. (2000) and the present study, it could also be noted that, for both studies, facial expressions demonstrated a powerful effect on the assessment of personality traits, whether positive or negative in nature. Two additional studies, however, even more closely resembled this study in their procedure and results. One of these two studies, conducted by Otta, Abrosio, and Hoshino (1996), included an examination of the effects of three different forms of smiling upon the attribution of various personality characteristics. Once again, college students were surveyed, and the results demonstrated that certain positive characteristics were associated with the smiling expression, regardless of the degree to which the person was smiling. This was similar to the results of the current study in that the smiling and neutral expressions were also associated with positive characteristics. The second of these two studies, however, which was conducted by Otta, Lira, Delevati, Cesar, and Pires (1994), examined the differences between various degrees of smiling and head tilting on the attribution of personality traits by college participants. Results from this study showed that the smiling faces were once again correlated with positive characteristics, but that head tilting had very little effect on the traits that were assigned. Thus, the results from these two studies, as well as the present study, each demonstrated that positive characteristics were associated with smiling facial expressions, but that other variables, such as the degree to which one’s head was tilted, had very little effect on the attribution of positive personality traits. It was through analysis of such similarities that it was noted that this might have been the reason why the results from the present study, in the females-rating-males and the males-rating-males conditions, demonstrated very little significant difference between the mean scores for the smiling and the neutral facial expressions. Several studies that related gender and the expression of emotion through facial expressions have also been conducted in previous research. For example, one such study, conducted by Plant, Hyde, Keltner, and Devine (2000), measured the cultural stereotypes concerning gender and emotion, the influence of these stereotypes on the interpretation of facial expressions of emotion, as well as the application of these stereotypes in interpreting infant personality characteristics. Although this study covered a broad range of gender-related topics, it related to the current study in that the gender of those being observed often affected the manner in which their facial expressions were interpreted. Stereotypical female emotions, such as happiness, love, and sympathy were often assigned despite the actual emotions that were being displayed. This study differed from the current study, however, because the current study failed to thoroughly examine such stereotypes. It was noted, however, that although gender-stereotyped emotional displays were not incorporated into the present study, the effects of such stereotypes may have been demonstrated in the results, which showed that females were rated more positively than males overall, by both male and female participants. Despite the similarities between the present study and previous research in the area of facial expressions, many differences were found between some of these previous studies and the current experiment. Much of the previous research has focused on decoding accuracy of emotional facial displays, as well as the effects of the intensity of the displayed emotion on the attribution of personality traits. Research in this area, however, has often failed to study the attribution of personality characteristics based on various kinds of facial expressions. Also, although many of these studies examined the effects of various factors upon the assessment of personality traits, few actually studied the manner in which gender affected these assessments. The researchers of the current study hoped to add to the current knowledge concerning the effects of gender – of both the observer and those being observed – as well as the effect of various types of facial expressions upon the attribution of personality traits. Therefore, the current study differed from the previously mentioned studies in that it incorporated different variables in the study of the attribution of personality traits based on facial expression. While the current study did provide statistically significant results, one problem with the study was found to be a possible hindrance in the examination of these results. Although the researchers attempted to control for any extraneous variables, the race of the male and the female in the photographs may have created a bias in the responses given by the participants. Due to the lack of available technology, the researchers created the surveys using only a Caucasian male and female for the photographs. Although the majority of participants were also Caucasian, there were African-American, Asian, and Latino participants in this study as well. Since race is often an issue in the assessment of positive characteristics such as beauty, the responses to the surveys on the part of these participants may have been affected by this factor, thus possibly affecting the validity of the survey. In the future, such a factor may be controlled through the use of a graphics morphing program, which could possibly combine faces of more than one race to form a photograph that is race-neutral. Another possible problem with the study could be seen in the obvious carry-over influence of the smiling photographs. As demonstrated in the results, there was a significant decrease in the mean scores assigned to one of the photographs when it was paired with a smiling photograph, no matter what facial expression was observed in the photograph being rated. For example, a frowning female picture that was paired with a smiling male picture would have been rated lower than it would have been if it were paired with a frowning male picture. Thus, as the mean ratings for the male and female photographs increased from the frowning to the neutral and to the smiling conditions, the means for the accompanying photographs decreased significantly, regardless of their facial expressions. These results demonstrated an obvious problem with the surveys that were used in this research study. In the future, surveys may be developed which include separate pages for each photograph, which could then be separated by other information so as to reduce the carry-over effect that was demonstrated by placing the two photographs on the same page. Despite minor flaws within the current study, the results from this study may be applied in everyday situations, whether one is making new acquaintances or preparing for a job interview. Although previous studies have documented the effect of first impressions on the assessment of personality characteristics, the current study may provide insight into the effects of facial expressions, as well as gender, on these first impression assessments. There is no question that facial expressions play an essential role in our everyday interpersonal interactions, from chance meetings to business dinners. The facial expressions that one presents to the outside world may, therefore, have a significant impact on the success of these interactions as well as on the perceived social competence of that individual. It is believed that information provided by the results of the current study may advance the knowledge concerning the manner in which facial expressions are interpreted, as well as the effect that gender has upon these interpretations. For instance, this study demonstrated that females are rated more positively than males, regardless of the gender of the observer. This information may be useful in preventing a gender bias in such important situations as job interviews, where first-impressions are based upon various factors, including facial expressions. In the future, one might improve upon the current knowledge concerning facial expression interpretation by studying not only the interpretations of college students, but those of all age groups as well, from young to old. In studying these different perspectives, one might examine the various manners of interpretation, the various personality traits that these different age groups associate with various expressions, as well as the differences in decoding accuracy as age increases. This topic is capable of being taken in many possible directions, each of which may provide new and interesting insight into the fascinating area of facial expressions, one of the most intriguing forms of language that exists. Facial expressions are capable of both revealing and concealing information about who we are and what our intentions may be. Our ability to understand others is based upon the use of facial expressions, so further study into this area is essential in advancing our knowledge of both ourselves and others.
REFERENCES Ekman, P., & O’Sullivan, M. (1991). Facial Expression: Methods, Means, and Moues. In R.S. Feldman & B. Rimé (Eds.), Fundamentals of Nonverbal Behavior (pp. 163-199). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Hall, J.A. (1984) Nonverbal Sex Differences: Communication Accuracy and Expressive Style. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Hess, U., Blairy, S., & Kleck, R.E. (2000). The Influence of Facial Emotion Displays, Gender, and Ethnicity on Judgments of Dominance and Affiliation. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 24 , 265-283. Hess, U., Blairy, S., & Kleck, R.E. (1997). The Intensity of Emotional Facial Expression and Decoding Accuracy. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 21, 241-257. King, D. (1997). Nonverbal Communication. Found at: http://www2.pstcc.cc.tn.us/~dking/nvcom.htm. Otta, E., Abrosio, F.F., & Hoshino, R.L. (1996). Reading a Smiling Face: Messages Conveyed by Various Forms of Smiling. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 82, 1111-1121. Otta, E., Lira, B.B.P., Delevati, N.M., Cesar, O.P., & Pires, S.C.G. (1994). The Effect of Smiling and Head Tilting on Person Perception. The Journal of Psychology, 128, 323-331. Patterson, M.L. (1984). Nonverbal Exchange: Past, Present, and Future. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 89, 763-770. Plant, E.A., Hyde, J.S., Keltner, D., & Devine, P.G. (2000). The Gender Stereotyping of Emotions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 81-92.
APPENDIX APlease provide us with the following demographic information:Age:________Sex:________Race:______________________________________________________________
A male and a female photograph were provided and the following questions were asked for each photograph that the participants viewed:
Please rate the personality characteristics of the person in the photograph on a scale of 1 to 10. Please circle the number you feel best represents their personality based on your first impression of the photograph.
1) Irresponsible 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Responsible
2) Pessimistic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Optimistic
3) Unattractive 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Attractive
4) Unsympathetic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Sympathetic
5) Unhappy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Happy
6) Insincere 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Sincere
7) Unkind 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Kind
8) Excitable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Calm
9) Unreliable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Reliable
10) Unpopular 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Popular