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|Title: ||On the perception of religious group membership from faces|
|Authors: ||Rule, Nicholas O.|
Garrett, James V.
|Issue Date: ||2010|
|Publisher: ||Public Library of Science|
|Citation: ||Rule, N. O., Garrett, J. V., & Ambady, N. (2010). On the perception of religious group membership from faces. PLoS ONE, 5, e14241|
|Abstract: ||Background: The study of social categorization has largely been confined to examining groups distinguished by
perceptually obvious cues. Yet many ecologically important group distinctions are less clear, permitting insights into the
general processes involved in person perception. Although religious group membership is thought to be perceptually
ambiguous, folk beliefs suggest that Mormons and non-Mormons can be categorized from their appearance. We tested
whether Mormons could be distinguished from non-Mormons and investigated the basis for this effect to gain insight to
how subtle perceptual cues can support complex social categorizations.
Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants categorized Mormons’ and non-Mormons’ faces or facial features according
to their group membership. Individuals could distinguish between the two groups significantly better than chance guessing
from their full faces and faces without hair, with eyes and mouth covered, without outer face shape, and inverted 180u; but
not from isolated features (i.e., eyes, nose, or mouth). Perceivers’ estimations of their accuracy did not match their actual
accuracy. Exploration of the remaining features showed that Mormons and non-Mormons significantly differed in perceived
health and that these perceptions were related to perceptions of skin quality, as demonstrated in a structural equation
model representing the contributions of skin color and skin texture. Other judgments related to health (facial attractiveness,
facial symmetry, and structural aspects related to body weight) did not differ between the two groups. Perceptions of
health were also responsible for differences in perceived spirituality, explaining folk hypotheses that Mormons are distinct
because they appear more spiritual than non-Mormons.
Conclusions/Significance: Subtle markers of group membership can influence how others are perceived and categorized.
Perceptions of health from non-obvious and minimal cues distinguished individuals according to their religious group
membership. These data illustrate how the non-conscious detection of very subtle differences in others’ appearances
supports cognitively complex judgments such as social categorization.|
|Appears in Collections:||UofT Faculty publications|
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