How Emotions Jump from Face to Face

For the last few decades, social scientists have been teasing out the mental and physiological systems involved in profiling and social bias. Taken at face value, the biases look like simple prejudice, like assuming that black people are criminals, or that people from the Middle East are terrorists. But research on social cognition is revealing much more subtle and unconscious mechanisms behind these social biases.

Expectations shape perceptions (and misperceptions).  Since we tend to assume men are more aggressive and women are more nurturing, we’re more likely to see men as angry and women as happy. Snap judgments happen easily as we scan our environments looking for social cues. 

By Jesse Graham, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California.

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