Bright, Bad, Babyfaced Boys: Appearance Stereotypes Do Not Always Yield Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Effects

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Abstract

Three studies tested the hypothesis that babyfaced adolescent boys would compensate for the undesirable expectation that they will exhibit childlike traits by behaving contrary to it. Studies 1 and 2 revealed that babyfaced boys from middle- and lower class samples, including a sample of delinquents, showed higher academic achievement than their mature-faced peers, refuting the stereotype of babyfaced people as intellectually weak. In the lower class samples, this compensation effect was moderated by IQ and socioeconomic status (SES), variables that influence the ability to overcome low expectations. Study 3 showed that babyfaceness also can produce negative compensatory behaviors. Low-SES babyfaced boys were more likely than their mature-faced peers to be delinquent, and babyfaced delinquents committed more crimes, refuting the stereotype of babyfaced people as warm, submissive, and physically weak.

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