Looking bad: inferring criminality after 100 milliseconds

Research finds we make spontaneous trait inferences from facial appearance, even after brief exposures to a face (i.e., less than or equal to 100 ms). We examined spontaneous impressions of criminality from facial appearance, testing whether these impressions persist after repeated presentation (i.e., one to three exposures) and increased exposure duration (100, 500, or 1,000 ms) to the face. Judgement confidence and response times were recorded. Other participants viewed the faces for an unlimited period of time, rating trustworthiness, dominance and criminal appearance. We found evidence that participants spontaneously make criminal appearance attributions. These inferences persisted with repeated presentation and increased exposure duration, were related to trustworthiness and dominance ratings, and were made with high confidence. Implications are discussed.