Face-Based Trait Inference
In social psychology, our tendency to form knee-jerk, split-second impressions of strangers is sometimes called "spontaneous trait inference."
Most early research into this topic was later shown to be probably not true by more recent evidence, but the idea that we make quick, reflexive decisions about people—so quick that we’re not yet fully conscious of seeing the person our brains have already judged—has become increasingly well-supported as more research has rolled in.
Much of this research has been focused on how we interpret even the most innocuous behaviors as meaningful, spinning complex suppositions about a person's intelligence, character, benevolence or malevolence, and even general capability after gleaning just a fraction of a second's worth of performative or situational data.
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