Stereotypes bias visual prototypes for sex and emotion categories

Jeffrey A. Brooks, Ryan M. Stolier, Jonathan B. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent models suggest that social categories are not perceived independently, but that they can facilitate or bias each other's perception due to incidentally shared stereotypes. To address the role of visual prediction in driving these intersectional effects in the domains of sex and emotion perception, three studies were conducted. Participants categorized visually obscured faces by sex and emotion, from which we produced reversecorrelated prototype faces for each social category. These prototype faces were found to exhibit systematic biases in their visual appearance (Male- Angry, Female-Happy), as judged by independent raters. Moreover, this biased appearance in sex and emotion prototypes was related to the extent of a participant's stereotypical associations linking men to anger and women to happiness. Together, the findings suggest that stereotypes can bind social categories together at the level of visual prediction and offer new insights into current theoretical models of social perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-496
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2018


  • Face perception
  • Reverse correlation
  • Social categorization
  • Social perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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