ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (12): 2735-2745.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.02735

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Cues of eye region and their effects on face-personality perception

TIAN Jiayuan, LONG Yanling, YANG Hong, WU Huifang, XUE Peng, JIANG Zhongqing()   

  1. College of Psychology, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, China
  • Received:2022-05-25 Online:2022-12-15 Published:2022-09-23
  • Contact: JIANG Zhongqing


People often make inferences about personality based on facial features. Among the facial features affecting face-personality perception, eye features are the most complex. According to the distributed human neural system for face perception, cues from eye region can be divided into two categories: changeable and invariant aspects. Changeable cues include gaze direction, eyelid-openness, eye expression and pupil size; invariant cues include eye size, sclera color, iris color, sclera size index, limbal ring, glasses and eye makeup.
From the perspective of underlying mechanism, eye cues can be divided into three major categories, namely, cues affected by pathological factors, cues associated with specific groups, and cues regulated by subjective awareness or physiological factors. Cues affected by pathological factors are often studied from an evolutionary cognitive perspective, including eye size, sclera color, limbal ring, pupil size, eye makeup, eyelid-openness and glasses; cues associated with specific groups are those that indicate gender, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, social class, etc. Such cues are often studied in terms of stereotypes, including eye size, glasses and eye makeup; cues regulated by subjective awareness or physiological factors can be studied from the behavioral tendency conveyed by expressions and the emotional induction of expressions on perceivers, including eye expression, gaze direction and pupil size. For pupil size and gaze direction, it can be explained by the adaptive-gain theory and approach-avoidance motivational brain systems, respectively.
Future research can be expanded from the following five aspects: (1) Starting from the behavioral cues of the eyes, to explore the accuracy of personality inference; (2) Explore the rules and functions of the different mechanisms of multi-cues in the eyes in integrating perception; (3) The similarities and differences of the effects exhibited by infectious eye cues and non-infectious eye cues remain to be revealed; (4) The adjustment of the perceiver's own personality traits to the effect of eye cues in face-personality perception; (5) From the perspective of evolutionary cognition, eye cues can be further divided into “self-interested cues” and “altruistic cues”. Self-interested cues are the cues of the perceived person's own adaptation to the environment (such as sclera color, limbal ring); altruistic cues are the cues that the perceived person helps the perceiver to adapt to the environment (such as sclera size index). Whether the perceiver can recognize “altruistic” cues and produce a stable effect, and what are the similarities and differences between the effects of "self-interested" cues and "altruistic" cues, remains to be explored.

Key words: face, personality perception, perceptual clues of eye region

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