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Impressions of Baby-Faced Adults

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1521/soco.1984.2.4.315

Facial features that distinguish human infants were manipulated in schematic adult faces to test the hypothesis that impressions of babies are generalized to adults who in some way resemble babies. The results revealed that large eyes, low vertical placement of features, and short features, either singly or in combination, served to decrease perceivers' impressions of a stimulus person's physical strength, social dominance, and intellectual astuteness. These effects were independent of the perceived age and attractiveness of the faces; this was evidenced by partial correlation analyses, as well as by the finding that babyish features typically had the same impact on impressions of female and male faces, even though they increased the rated attractiveness of the female faces and decreased the rated attractiveness of the male faces. The results are discussed within a theoretical framework that emphasizes the importance of determining what stimulus information in people's appearance and demeanor influences impressions of their psychological attributes.