Facial Stereotype Bias Is Mitigated by Training

Kao Wei Chua, Jonathan B. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People automatically infer others’ personality (e.g., trustworthiness) based on facial appearance, and such facial stereotype biases predict real-world consequences across political, legal, and business domains. The present research tested whether these biases can be mitigated through counterstereotype training aimed at reconfiguring the associations between specific facial appearances and social traits. Across six studies and a replication, a behavioral counterstereotype training consistently reduced or eliminated facial stereotype biases for White male faces in the context of economic trust games, hiring decisions, and even automatic evaluations assessed via evaluative priming. Together, the results demonstrate a fundamental malleability in facial stereotyping related to trustworthiness, with a minimal training able to mitigate the tendency to activate and apply long-held, highly automatized facial stereotypes. These findings suggest that face impressions are more flexible than typically appreciated, and they provide a potential inroad toward combating our ingrained biases based on facial appearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1335-1344
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • face perception
  • impression formation
  • statistical learning
  • stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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