A Case of Evolutionary Mismatch? Why Facial Width-to-Height Ratio May Not Predict Behavioral Tendencies

Dawei Wang*, Krishnan Nair, Maryam Kouchaki, Edward J. Zajac, Xiuxi Zhao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study contributes to the growing literature linking physical characteristics and behavioral tendencies by advancing the current debate on whether a person’s facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) predicts a variety of antisocial tendencies. Specifically, our large-scale study avoided the social-desirability bias found in self-reports of behavioral tendencies by capturing survey data not only from more than 1,000 business executives but also from evaluators who reported knowing the focal individuals well. With this improved research design, and after conducting a variety of analyses, we found very little evidence of fWHR predicting antisocial tendencies. In light of prior research linking fWHR to social perceptions of evaluators, our results are suggestive of an evolutionary mismatch, whereby a physical characteristic once tied to antisocial tendencies in ancestral environments is—in modern environments—not predictive of such behaviors but instead predictive of biased perceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1074-1081
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Volume30
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

Keywords

  • evolutionary psychology
  • facial features
  • physical appearance
  • social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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