Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Lorne Campbell

Second Advisor

Bertram Gawronski


Recent findings in the face processing literature demonstrate that responses to aesthetic facial attractiveness are qualified by the extent to which the face shows positive social interest in the viewer. This may reflect an unconscious process that facilitates the allocation of social effort to the most attractive individuals who appear likely to reciprocate one’s own interest. The present study was designed to probe the general mechanism by which these cues shape face preferences by testing the predictions of an arousal-based account of current findings against those of an engagement-based account in a novel extension of the typical face rating paradigm that incorporates both attractive and unattractive stimulus faces. While the target gender, the target’s attractiveness, and the gender of the rater together interacted in predictable ways, gaze behavior did not appear to play a significant role in subjects’ perceptions. A number of potential theoretical and methodological explanations for this null result are discussed in turn.



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