Integrating gaze direction and sexual dimorphism of face shape when perceiving the dominance of others

Julie C. Main, Benedict C. Jones, Lisa M. DeBruine, Anthony C. Little

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Although gaze direction and face shape have each been shown to affect perceptions of the dominance of others, the question whether gaze direction and face shape have independent main effects on perceptions of dominance, and whether these effects interact, has not yet been studied. To investigate this issue, we compared dominance ratings of faces with masculinised shapes and direct gaze, masculinised shapes and averted gaze, feminised shapes and direct gaze, and feminised shapes and averted gaze. While faces with direct gaze were generally rated as more dominant than those with averted gaze, this effect of gaze direction was greater when judging faces with masculinised shapes than when judging faces with feminised shapes. Additionally, faces with masculinised shapes were rated as more dominant than those with feminised shapes when faces were presented with direct gaze, but not when faces were presented with averted gaze. Collectively, these findings reveal an interaction between the effects of gaze direction and sexually dimorphic facial cues on judgments of the dominance of others, presenting novel evi-dence for the existence of complex integrative processes that underpin social perception of faces. Integrating information from face shape and gaze cues may increase the efficiency with which we perceive the dominance of others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1275-1283
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


  • gaze direction
  • sexual dimorphism
  • dominance

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