Reducing Facial Stereotype Bias in Consequential Social Judgments: Intervention Success With White Male Faces

By Youngki Hong, Kao-Wei Chua, & Jonathan B. Freeman, Columbia University, on 25 January 2024


Published on December 18, 2023.

Initial impressions of others based on facial appearances are often inaccurate yet can lead to dire outcomes. Across four studies, adult participants underwent a counterstereotype training to reduce their reliance on facial appearance in consequential social judgments of White male faces. In Studies 1 and 2, trustworthiness and sentencing judgments among control participants predicted whether real-world inmates were sentenced to death versus life in prison, but these relationships were diminished among trained participants. In Study 3, a sequential priming paradigm demonstrated that the training was able to abolish the relationship between even automatically and implicitly perceived trustworthiness and the inmates’ life-or-death sentences. Study 4 extended these results to realistic decision-making, showing that training reduced the impact of facial trustworthiness on sentencing decisions even in the presence of decision-relevant information. Overall, our findings suggest that a counterstereotype intervention can mitigate the potentially harmful effects of relying on facial appearance in consequential social judgments.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Thématique