The Temporal Cheerleader Effect: Attractiveness Judgments Depend on Surrounding Faces Through Time


Previous research has found that people are seen as more attractive when they appear in a group rather than in isolation. The present study asks whether faces that surround us in time also affect how attractive we appear to be. Participants rated the attractiveness of famous female faces presented in a sequence of three and in isolation. We found that people do integrate information about attractiveness over time, but that temporal context has the opposite effect of static context. People perceived faces as less attractive in a series than in isolation. We also varied the attractiveness of surrounding faces in order to examine how the serial position of contextual information might figure into people’s judgments. We found that faces presented earlier in the sequence figured more heavily into people’s judgment than did faces presented later in the sequence. These findings highlight the role of temporal context in perceptions of attractiveness.

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