On this page you will find links to examples of some famous findings from face research.
Move your mouse over the upside down face... it looks very strange the right way up. The eyes and mouth have been inverted in this image... but why does it look less strange upside down? Turning a face upside down disrupts our understanding of configuration - the relationship between the eyes and mouth and the rest of the face. It has been suggested we have special mechanisms for viewing upright faces that rely on configuration but these do not apply to upside down faces.
Thompson, P. (1980) Margaret Thatcher: a new illusion. Perception, 9, 483-4.
Look at the four faces on the left... moving down the female images they are increasing in averageness. Averageness is how similar a face is to everyone else in a population... you can think of average as the opposite of distinctive Average faces are difficult to recognise in a crowd but are also surprisingly attractive. The faces on the left are blends - the more faces in the blend the more average and the more attractive. It is thought that humans also make an average face in their brain - a face that represents the average of all the faces a person has encountered!
Langlois, J. H. & Roggman, L. A. 1990 Attractive faces are only average. Psychological Science 1, 115-121.
Little, A. C. & Hancock, P. J. 2002 The role of masculinity and distinctiveness on the perception of attractiveness in human male faces. British Journal of Psychology 93, 451-464.
Move your mouse over the face on the left... you should have no difficulty in telling that one face is happy and the other is angry.
In fact these are 2 of 6 proposed basic emotions...
The 6 emotions are:
Happy, Angry, Sad, Disgust, Surprise, and Fear
These facial expressions are recognised across cultures
Ekman, P. & Friesen, W. V. 1971 Constants across culture in the face and emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 17, 124-129.
Ekman, P. & Friesen, W. V. 1976 Pictures of facial affect. Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychological Press.
Move your mouse over the Mona Lisa's face... it flips sides. One of the images is the original and the other is mirror reversed... but which image do you prefer?
People like both faces and other images they have seen before - that they are familiar with. It has been suggested that this effect may be responsible for popular beliefs about partners looking alike or partners being selected that look like our parents. Both our own and our parents faces are very familiar and we may be attracted to indivduals whose faces resemble our own or our mum or dad.
Click here to know which one was the real Mona Lisa
Mita, T. H., Dermer, M. & Knight, J. 1977 Reversed facial images and the mere exposure hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 35, 597-601.
Zajonc, R. B. 1968 Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 9, 1-27.
Move your mouse over the face on the left... which do you think is more attractive?
One of the faces represents an average model and the other an average student... models are selected for thier beauty and students are not!
Most people agree the model face is most attractive. In fact high agreement on who is and is not attractive is found both between individuals and across different cultures.
It has been suggested that this agreement may reflect a biological basis for attractiveness judgements.
Jones, D. & Hill, K. 1993 Criteria of facial attractiveness in five populations. Human Nature 4, 271-296.
Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallamm, M. & Smoot, M. 2000 Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin 126, 390-423.