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Misleading face-based judgment of cognitive level in intellectual disability: The case of trisomy 21 (Down syndrome)

Authors
Journal
Research in Developmental Disabilities
0891-4222
Publisher
Elsevier
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2014.09.003
Keywords
  • Down Syndrome
  • Facial Appearance
  • Social Judgment
  • Social Perception
  • Intelligence
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Face-Based Judgment
Disciplines
  • Logic

Abstract

Abstract People spontaneously use faces to make inferences about other's personality traits or abilities, which generally lead to invalid conclusions. Here, we show first evidence that perceived variations in the facial appearance of 20 children with trisomy 21 (t21) influence how they are perceived in terms of intelligence (or intellectual disability), the more “trisomic” faces being rated as less intelligent (or more intellectually disabled). Despite high degrees of inter-rater agreement (80 raters), these inferences were unrelated to individuals’ actual test scores which were also unrelated to perceived facial appearance. All these findings indicate that social inferences about intelligence based on facial appearance are unreliable even in groups characterized by a genetic disorder such as t21.

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