CSU research: Do facial features signal behavioural traits?

Monday 18 Jun 2018

* CSU research seeks 300 to 500 male and female participants aged 18+ years

* Study will explore whether personality traits like honesty and behavioural traits like promiscuity can be detected by facial features

* Extremely relevant to growing digitalisation of society within which perceptions of facial attractiveness and relationship decisions are made rapidly

* Participants can help unravel the underlying reasons for rapid decisions and their potential outcomes

A Charles Sturt University (CSU) research student seeks participants for her study to determine whether people possess an evolved capacity to detect facial features that signal behavioural traits and relationship behaviours as a potential partner.

Ms Kelly Forno (pictured), a full-time student studying a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) (Honours) in the CSU School of Psychology, said her study explores whether personality traits like honesty and behavioural traits like promiscuity can be detected when considering a person as a potential partner.

“As you can imagine, such findings stand to have a vast impact on our behaviour in relationships and reactions to others behaviour,” Ms Forno said. “This research could potentially lead to answering some significant questions such as ‘To what extent do people make inferences about others?’, ‘Are such inferences correct?’, and ‘What impact do such inferences have on or behaviour or reactions toward those people?’.”

Ms Forno seeks 300 to 500 male and female participants aged 18 years or over in any state or country to participate in her study titled ‘Would They or Wouldn’t They?: Perceptions of Others’ Intentions’.

The survey will take 30-35 minutes to complete, and involves rating faces of women or men (depending on participants’ sexual orientation), in attractiveness, infidelity, and suitability for a long-term and short-term relationship, followed by some questions regarding participants’ own relationship behaviours.

Participants will also be asked to rate same-sex faces to determine whether these responses relate to differences in opposite-sex perceptions or relationship behaviours.

Explaining the context of her study, Ms Forno said that evolutionary psychologists believe that people have an innate ability to detect certain facial signals in order to increase benefits and decrease costs involved in efforts to achieve sexual reproduction.

“It is proposed that certain facial cues permit observers to make decisions regarding whether or not a person is suitable as a long-term or short-term partner which may relate to whether or not they are considered attractive or potentially unfaithful,” she said. “Such decisions might also be based on individual differences such as age, gender, how attractive they consider themselves to be, or the extent to which they prefer casual relationships - all of which will be examined within this research.

Ms Forno said this research is not only extremely relevant to physical dating behaviours but also within today’s growing digitalisation within which perceptions of facial attractiveness and relationship decisions are often made in the blink of an eye.

“For instance, on a daily basis hundreds of thousands of people are ‘swiping left or right’ on relationship apps such as Tinder based on a split second decision regarding a person’s suitability (or unsuitability) as a potential romantic partner,” she said. “People’s participation in this research can assist in unravelling the underlying reasons for such rapid decisions and their potential outcomes.

“I feel that the decisions we make regarding our relationship preferences and the extent to which these are similar or different across such a broad population, not only has significant implications on the future success of a person’s romantic relationships, but also on a child’s impressions of what is considered ‘beautiful’ and the level of success they are likely to achieve in their future relationships.”

The study link is: https://csufobjbs.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bK5zKm2mtSUDhn7. Survey collection will close 9am Monday 16 July before being withdrawn to prepare study results for data analysis. To participate or for more information, please follow the link or email kellyforno@hotmail.com.


Media contact: Bruce Andrews, 0418 669 362

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews with Ms Kelly Forno who is based at Cairns, in far north Queensland.

Ms Forno’s study ‘Would They or Wouldn’t They?: Perceptions of Others’ Intentions’ has CSU Human Research Ethics Committee approval (protocol number H18050), and is being conducted under the supervision of Dr Danielle Wagstaff of Federation University School of Psychology.