Social Context and Culture

When we encounter others for the first time, we are prone to make spontaneous, even unconscious inferences that guide our interactions with them. Aspects of others’ appearance such as facial maturity and attractiveness, as well as perceptions of race and sex, profoundly impact our impressions. This raises an important question: What is the relative contribution to impression formation of feature-based information (e.g., facial maturity) versus group identity cues (e.g., race, sex)? Facial-appearance information may be best conceptualized as part of gender or racial stereotypes. Yet, there is relatively little information on the role of facial appearance in either the emotion or stereotype literatures. Rather, current thinking generally regards appearance, group membership, and expression as functionally distinct sources of information requiring separate routes for processing. Also, examining such effects cross-culturally has the benefit of revealing both universal and culturally bound processes. For these reasons, we have examined contextual and culture effects in social and emotional perception.

Related Publications

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*PDFs of articles are posted below (PDF) for individual, noncommercial use to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly work. They are intended for teaching and training purposes only. Articles may not be reposted or disseminated without permission by the copyright holder. Copyright holders retain all rights as indicated within each article.

Freeman, J.B., Johnson, K.L., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Ambady N. (in press). The social–sensory interface: Interactions in person perception. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience.

Rule, N.O., Adams, R.B., Jr., Ambady, N., & Freeman, J. B. (in press). Knowing who is boss in a blink: Accurate perceptions of dominance following rapid presentations of faces and bodies. Perception. 

Hess, U., Adams, R.B., Jr., Simard, A., Stevenson, M.T., & Kleck, R.E. (in press). Smiling and sad wrinkles: Age-related changes in the face and the perception of emotions and intentions. (PDF)

Adams, R.B., Jr., Nelson, A.J., & Soto, J.A., Hess, U., & Kleck, R.E. (2012). Emotion in the neutral face: A mechanism for impression formation? Cognition and Emotion, 26, 131-141. (PDF)

Weisbuch, M., & Adams, R.B., Jr. (2012). The functional forecast model of emotional expression processing. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 499-514. (PDF)

Slepian, M.L., Weisbuch, M., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Ambady, N. (2011). Gender moderates the relationship between emotion and perceived gaze. Emotion, 6, 1439-1444. (PDF)

Adams, R.B., Jr., Pauker, K., & Weisbuch, M. (2010). Looking the other way: The role of gaze direction in the cross-race memory effect. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 478-481(PDF)

Adams, R.B., Jr., Franklin, R.G., Rule, N.O., Freeman, J.B., Yoshikawa, S., Kveraga, K., Hadjikhani, N., & Ambady, N. (2010).Culture, gaze, and the neural processing of fear expressions: An fMRI investigation. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 5, 340-348. (PDF)

Franklin, R. G., Jr. & Adams, R.B., Jr. (2010). What makes a face memorable? The relationship between face memory and emotional state reasoning. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 8-12. (PDF)

Franklin, R.G., Jr. & Adams, R.B., Jr. (2010). The two sides of beauty: Laterality and the duality of facial attractiveness. Brain and Cognition, 72, 300-305(PDF)

Hess, U. Thibault, P., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Kleck, R.E. (2010). The influence of gender, social roles and facial appearance on perceived emotionality. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 1310-1317(PDF)

Rule, N.O., Freeman, J.B., Moran, J.M., Gabrieli, J.D.E., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Ambady, N. (2010). Voting behavior is reflected in amygdala response across cultures. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 5, 349-355(PDF)

Ozono H., Watabe M., Yoshikawa S., Nakashima S., Rule, N. O., Ambady N., Adams R. B. Jr. (2010). What’s in a smile? Cultural differences in the effects of smiling on judgments of trustworthiness. Letters on Evolutionary Behavioral Science, 1, 15-18(PDF)

Rule, N.O., Ambady, N., Adams, R.B., Jr., Ozono, H., Nakashima, S., Yoshikawa, S., & Watabe, M. (2010). Polling the face: Prediction and consensus across cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 1-15(PDF) 

Freeman, J.B., Rule, N.O., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Ambady, N. (2010). The neural basis of categorical face perception: Graded representations of face gender in fusiform and orbitofrontal cortices. Cerebral Cortex, 20, 1314-1322. (PDF)

Adams, R.B., Jr., Rule, N, Franklin, R.G., Jr., Wang, E., Stevenson, M.T., Yoshikawa, S., Nomura, M., Sato, W., Kveraga, K., & Ambady, N. (2010). Cross-cultural reading the mind in the eyes: An fMRI investigation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 97-108. (PDF)

Adams R.B., Jr., & Franklin, R.G., Jr. (2009). Influence of emotional expression on the processing of gaze direction. Motivation & Emotion, 33, 106-112. (PDF)

Franklin, R.G., Jr. & Adams, R.B., Jr. (2009). A dual-process account of female facial attractiveness preferences: Sexual and nonsexual routes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1156-1159(PDF)

Rule, N.O., Ambady, N., & Adams, R.B., Jr. (2009). Personality in perspective: Judgmental consistency across orientations of the face. Perception, 38, 1688 -1699(PDF)

Hess, U., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Kleck, R.E. (2009). The face is not an empty canvas: How facial expressions interact with facial appearance. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B, 364, 3497–3504(PDF)

Freeman, J.B., Rule, N.O., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Ambady, N. (2009). Culture shapes a mesolimbic response to signals of dominance and subordination that associates with behavior. NeuroImage, 47, 353-359(PDF)

Hess, U. Adams, R.B., Jr., Grammer, K., & Kleck, R.E. (2009). Sex and emotion expression: Are angry women more like men?Journal of Vision, 9, 1-8. (PDF)

Pauker, K., Ambady, N., Weisbuch, M., Sommers, S.R., Adams, R.B., Jr, & Ivcevic, Z. (2009). Not so black and white: Memory for ambiguous group members. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 795-810. (PDF)

Hess, U., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Kleck (2009). The categorical perception of emotions and traits. Social Cognition, 27, 320-326.(PDF)

Rule, N.O., Ambady, N., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Macrae, C.N. (2008). Accuracy and awareness in the perception of male sexual orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1019-1028. (PDF)

Chiao, J. Y., Adams, R. B., Jr., Tse, P., Lowenthal, & W., Richeson, J. A., & Ambady, N. (2008). Distinct neural systems underlying the perception of social dominance from facial cues. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 11, 201-214. (Special Issue on Social Neuroscience). (PDF)

Rule, N.O., Ambady, N., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Macrae, C.N. (2007). Us and them: Memory advantages  
in perceptually ambiguous groups. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 687–692. (PDF)

Hess, U., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Kleck, R.E. (2005). Who may frown and who should smile? Dominance, affiliation, and the display of happiness and anger. Cognition & Emotion, 19, 515-536(PDF)

Marsh, A. A., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Kleck, R.E. (2005).  Why do fear and anger look the way they do?  Form and social function in facial expressions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 73-86(PDF)

Hess, U., Adams, R.B., Jr., & Kleck, R.E. (2004). Dominance, gender and emotion expression. Emotion4, 378-388(PDF)