Looking bad: Inferring criminality after 100 ms.

T Klatt, J.J Maltby, Joyce Humphries, H.L Smailes, H Ryder, M Phelps, H.D Flowe

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Research finds we make spontaneous trait inferences from facial appearance, even after brief exposures to a face (i.e., ≤ 100 ms). We examined spontaneous impressions of criminality from facial appearance, testing whether these impressions persist after repeated presentation (i.e., one to three exposures) and increased exposure duration (100, 500, or 1000 ms) to the face. Judgement confidence and response times were recorded. Other participants viewed the faces for an unlimited period of time, rating trustworthiness dominance, and criminal appearance. We found evidence that participants spontaneously make criminal appearance attributions. These inferences persisted with repeated presentation and increased exposure duration, were related to trustworthiness and dominance ratings, and were made with high confidence. Implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-125
JournalApplied Psychology in Criminal Justice
Issue number2
Early online date12 Dec 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Dec 2016


  • first impressions
  • bias
  • trait inferences
  • trustworthiness
  • criminality


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