The influence of gender, social roles, and facial appearance on perceived emotionality

Ursula Hess, Pascal Thibault, Reginal B. Adams, Robert E. Kleck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (SciVal)


One of the most pervasive gender stereotypes in Western culture concerns expectations regarding men's and women's emotionality. Whereas men are expected to be anger prone, women are expected to smile more. At the same time, men are generally perceived as more facially dominant and facially dominant individuals are expected to show more anger. That is, both facial appearance and social role expectations would lead observers to expect men to show more anger. The present research had the goal to disentangle the unique contribution of these two factors. As it is impossible in our society to fully untangle the influence of these factors since they are highly confounded, we created an alien society where these factors could be unconfounded. In this alien world, Deluvia, child rearing is exclusively assumed by a third gender, the caregiver, whereas men and women share the same social roles. The facial appearance of the Deluvians was varied along the dominance continuum. The results showed that facially dominant Deluvians, regardless of gender, were expected to show more anger, disgust, and contempt and less happiness, fear, sadness, and surprise. Also, the nurturing caregivers were expected to show less anger, contempt, and disgust as well as more fear, sadness, and surprise, regardless of facial appearance. No effect of gender per se on perceived emotionality was found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1310-1317
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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