Facial Resemblance to Emotions: Group Differences, Impression Effects, and Race Stereotypes

Leslie A. Zebrowitz, Masako Kikuchi, Jean-Marc Fellous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

107 Scopus citations


The authors used connectionist modeling to extend previous research on emotion overgeneralization effects. Study 1 demonstrated that neutral expression male faces objectively resemble angry expressions more than female faces do, female faces objectively resemble surprise expressions more than male faces do, White faces objectively resemble angry expressions more than Black or Korean faces do, and Black faces objectively resemble happy and surprise expressions more than White faces do. Study 2 demonstrated that objective resemblance to emotion expressions influences trait impressions even when statistically controlling possible confounding influences of attractiveness and babyfaceness. It further demonstrated that emotion overgeneralization is moderated by face race and that racial differences in emotion resemblance contribute to White perceivers' stereotypes of Blacks and Asians. These results suggest that intergroup relations may be strained not only by cultural stereotypes but also by adaptive responses to emotion expressions that are overgeneralized to groups whose faces subtly resemble particular emotions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-189
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010



  • emotion overgeneralization
  • face perception
  • impression formation
  • race stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology

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