Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions

Princeton University Press
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The scientific story of first impressions—and why the snap character judgments we make from faces are irresistible but usually incorrect

We make up our minds about others after seeing their faces for a fraction of a second—and these snap judgments predict all kinds of important decisions. For example, politicians who simply look more competent are more likely to win elections. Yet the character judgments we make from faces are as inaccurate as they are irresistible; in most situations, we would guess more accurately if we ignored faces. So why do we put so much stock in these widely shared impressions? What is their purpose if they are completely unreliable? In this book, Alexander Todorov, one of the world's leading researchers on the subject, answers these questions as he tells the story of the modern science of first impressions.

Drawing on psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, computer science, and other fields, this accessible and richly illustrated book describes cutting-edge research and puts it in the context of the history of efforts to read personality from faces. Todorov describes how we have evolved the ability to read basic social signals and momentary emotional states from faces, using a network of brain regions dedicated to the processing of faces. Yet contrary to the nineteenth-century pseudoscience of physiognomy and even some of today's psychologists, faces don't provide us a map to the personalities of others. Rather, the impressions we draw from faces reveal a map of our own biases and stereotypes.

A fascinating scientific account of first impressions, Face Value explains why we pay so much attention to faces, why they lead us astray, and what our judgments actually tell us.

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About the author

Alexander Todorov is professor of psychology at Princeton University, where he is also affiliated with the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His research on first impressions has been covered by media around the world, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the New Yorker, the Daily Telegraph, Scientific American, PBS, and NPR. He lives in Princeton.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
May 30, 2017
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781400885725
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Cognitive Neuroscience & Cognitive Neuropsychology
Psychology / Cognitive Psychology & Cognition
Psychology / Personality
Psychology / Physiological Psychology
Psychology / Social Psychology
Science / General
Self-Help / Personal Growth / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The field of social cognitive neuroscience has captured the attention of many researchers during the past ten years. Much of the impetus for this new field came from the development of functional neuroimaging methods that made it possible to unobtrusively measure brain activation over time. Using these methods over the last 30 years has allowed psychologists to move from simple validation questions -- would flashing stimuli activate the visual cortex -- to those about the functional specialization of brain regions-- are there regions in the inferior temporal cortex dedicated to face processing-- to questions that, just a decade ago, would have been considered to be intractable at such a level of analysis. These so-called "intractable" questions are the focus of the chapters in this book, which introduces social cognitive neuroscience research addressing questions of fundamental importance to social psychology: How do we understand and represent other people? How do we represent social groups? How do we regulate our emotions and socially undesirable responses? This book also presents innovative combinations of multiple methodologies, including behavioral experiments, computer modeling, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) experiments, Event-Related Potential (ERP) experiments, and brain lesion studies. It is divided into four sections. The first three sections present the latest research on, respectively, understanding and representing other people, representing social groups, and the interplay of cognition and emotion in social regulation. In the fourth section, contributors step back and consider a range of novel topics that have emerged in the context of social neuroscience research: understanding social exclusion as pain, deconstructing our moral intuitions, understanding cooperative exchanges with other agents, and the effect of aging on brain function and its implications for well-being. Taken together, these chapters provide a rich introduction to an exciting, rapidly developing and expanding field that promises a richer and deeper understanding of the social mind.
The field of social cognitive neuroscience has captured the attention of many researchers during the past ten years. Much of the impetus for this new field came from the development of functional neuroimaging methods that made it possible to unobtrusively measure brain activation over time. Using these methods over the last 30 years has allowed psychologists to move from simple validation questions -- would flashing stimuli activate the visual cortex -- to those about the functional specialization of brain regions-- are there regions in the inferior temporal cortex dedicated to face processing-- to questions that, just a decade ago, would have been considered to be intractable at such a level of analysis. These so-called "intractable" questions are the focus of the chapters in this book, which introduces social cognitive neuroscience research addressing questions of fundamental importance to social psychology: How do we understand and represent other people? How do we represent social groups? How do we regulate our emotions and socially undesirable responses? This book also presents innovative combinations of multiple methodologies, including behavioral experiments, computer modeling, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) experiments, Event-Related Potential (ERP) experiments, and brain lesion studies. It is divided into four sections. The first three sections present the latest research on, respectively, understanding and representing other people, representing social groups, and the interplay of cognition and emotion in social regulation. In the fourth section, contributors step back and consider a range of novel topics that have emerged in the context of social neuroscience research: understanding social exclusion as pain, deconstructing our moral intuitions, understanding cooperative exchanges with other agents, and the effect of aging on brain function and its implications for well-being. Taken together, these chapters provide a rich introduction to an exciting, rapidly developing and expanding field that promises a richer and deeper understanding of the social mind.
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