Facial expression can convey a staggering amount of information—not just what kind of mood a person is in or real-time emotional reactions, but also more complex concepts like dominance and subservience. But a new study out in the journal Psychological Science shows that there’s a way to communicate dominance that doesn’t involve moving the facial muscles at all: just tilt your head downward slightly and maintain eye contact.
In one experiment, participants in the University of British Columbia study rated avatars who were tilted upward 10 degrees, tilted downward 10 degrees, or level (neutral). Then they rated statements designed to gauge how dominant the person appeared, including “This person would enjoy having control over others,” and “This person would often try to get his way regardless of what people may want.”
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