The Glasses Stereotype Revisited: Effects of Eyeglasses on Perception, Recognition, and Impression of Faces

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Abstract

In face perception, besides physiognomic changes, accessories like eyeglasses can influence facial appearance. According to a stereotype, people who wear glasses are more intelligent, but less attractive. In a series of four experiments, we showed how full-rim and rimless glasses, differing with respect to the amount of face they cover, affect face perception, recognition, distinctiveness, and the attribution of stereotypes. Eyeglasses generally directed observers’ gaze to the eye regions; rimless glasses made faces appear less distinctive and resulted in reduced distinctiveness in matching and in recognition tasks. Moreover, the stereotype was confirmed but depended on the kind of glasses – rimless glasses yielded an increase in perceived trustworthiness, but not a decrease in attractiveness. Thus, glasses affect how we perceive the faces of the people wearing them and, in accordance with an old stereotype, they can lower how attractive, but increase how intelligent and trustworthy people wearing them appear. These effects depend on the kind of glasses worn.

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