Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

John Paul Wilson

Committee Member

Michael Bixter

Committee Member

Laura Lakusta


Research on first impressions suggests that facial trait inferences guide judgments in many domains, including perceptions of leadership ability. This study explored the extent to which race and gender moderate such inferences on the perception of leadership. A total of 179 participants rated facial stimuli on one of three traits: leadership ability, dominance, and warmth It was hypothesized that perceived warmth would benefit Black male targets more than White and Asian male targets, and perceived dominance would benefit male White and Asian male targets more than Black male targets. No strong hypotheses were specified for female targets, as research on the preferred facial traits of female leaders is limited and inconclusive. Different traits resulted in different judgements based on the race and gender of the target. For instance, warmth positively predicted leadership for all male targets, but was strongest for Black and weakest for White targets, whereas dominance positively predicted leadership ratings for Black and Asian men, but not White men. Surprisingly, facial dominance was more helpful for perceptions of female than male leadership.

File Format


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Psychology Commons