Beards Influence Emotion Recognition

Belinda M. Craig, Nicole L. Nelson, Barnaby J.W. Dixson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearchpeer-review


Beards are a sexually dimorphic masculine facial feature. The presence of a full beard on the face has been found to increase explicit ratings of aggressiveness and dominance; however, research is yet to investigate whether and how beards influence the recognition of facial emotional expressions. To address this, participants categorised facial expressions of happiness and anger (Experiments 1 and 2) or sadness (Experiment 3) as quickly and accurately as possible. These expressions were posed by the same individuals photographed with at least four weeks of untrimmed facial hair growth and again when clean-shaven. Participants were faster to categorise expressions of anger than happiness on bearded faces, but faster to categorize expressions of happiness than anger when the faces were clean-shaven. In a subsequent study, participants were faster to categorise happiness than sadness on bearded faces, but were no faster to categorise happiness or sadness on clean-shaven faces. These patterns suggest that beards influence our earliest impressions of others; enhancing expressions of aggression but concealing sadness. These findings provide evidence to that beards may be a signal of that increases perceived dominance and formidability even in the early stages of face processing
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event44th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Experimental Psychology - Shoal Bay, Australia
Duration: 19 Apr 201722 Apr 2017
Conference number: 44th


Conference44th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Experimental Psychology
Abbreviated titleEPC
CityShoal Bay


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