Age-related differences in spontaneous trait judgments from facial appearance

Harriet L. Smailes*, Joyce E. Humphries, Hannah Ryder, Thimna Klatt, John Maltby, Alice M. Pearmain, Heather D. Flowe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We tested whether there are age-related declines in detecting cues to trustworthiness, a skill that has been demonstrated to be rapid and automatic in younger adults. Young (Mage = 21.2 years) and older (Mage = 70.15 years) adults made criminal appearance judgments to unfamiliar faces, which were presented at a duration of 100, 500 or 1,000 ms. Participants’ response times and judgment confidence were recorded. Older were poorer than young adults at judging trustworthiness at 100 ms, and were slower overall in making their judgments. Further, the cues (i.e. perceptions of anger, trustworthiness and happiness) underlying criminality judgments were the same across age groups. Judgment confidence increased with increasing exposure duration for both age groups, while older adults were less confident in their judgments overall than their young counterparts. The implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-768
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number5
Early online date19 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018


  • ageing
  • criminality
  • face perception
  • first impressions
  • trait inferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Age-related differences in spontaneous trait judgments from facial appearance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this