Convictable Faces: Attributions of Future Criminality from Facial Appearance
Royer, Caisa Elizabeth
Can participants accurately determine whether someone will later become a criminal based only on the person’s high school yearbook photo? This project builds on previous research which has found participants are capable of accurately and reliably assessing personality characteristics—like trustworthiness and dominance— based only on a photograph. This paper discusses a series of studies which examine whether participants are also capable of making accurate predictions of criminality by utilizing high school yearbook photographs of men with later criminal records. In Study 1, participants were able to make accurate predictions of future criminality from high school yearbook photographs. In Study 2, the results from the previous study were replicated and confidence in criminality attributions was found to predict accuracy. In Study 3, participants were less accurate when judging photographs of Black students compared to White students, suggesting cross-race bias. Altogether, these studies demonstrated that participants have accurate stereotypes about what a person with a criminal record looks like. These stereotypes may create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which people who look criminal are treated like criminals and thus end up with criminal records. This theory was tested in Study 4 in which participants were asked to judge guilt based on mugshots of exonerated men and true criminals. Overall, this serious of studies demonstrated that participants can make accurate and consistent predictions of future criminality based only on facial appearance.
Psychology; Law; Bias; Character attributions; Criminality; Social perception; Stereotypes
Ceci, Stephen John
Hans, Valerie; Blume, John H.
Ph. D., Human Development
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis