Sunday, December 12, 2010

"On the Perception of Religious Group Membership from Faces"

I think that this article stands a good chance to net its authors an Ig Nobel prize.

Title: On the Perception of Religious Group Membership from Faces

Authors: Nicholas O. Rule, James V. Garrett, Nalini Ambady



The study of social categorization has largely been confined to examining groups distinguished by perceptually obvious cues. Yet many ecologically important group distinctions are less clear, permitting insights into the general processes involved in person perception. Although religious group membership is thought to be perceptually ambiguous, folk beliefs suggest that Mormons and non-Mormons can be categorized from their appearance. We tested whether Mormons could be distinguished from non-Mormons and investigated the basis for this effect to gain insight to how subtle perceptual cues can support complex social categorizations.


[[Look at the link if you want to see this part of the abstract.]]


Subtle markers of group membership can influence how others are perceived and categorized. Perceptions of health from non-obvious and minimal cues distinguished individuals according to their religious group membership. These data illustrate how the non-conscious detection of very subtle differences in others' appearances supports cognitively complex judgments such as social categorization.

(Tip of the cap to Mariano Beguerisse Díaz.)

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