In your face

Johnathan Caleb Peterson, Carly Jacobs, John Hibbing, Kevin Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Research suggests that people can accurately predict the political affiliations of others using only information extracted from the face. It is less clear from this research, however, what particular facial physiological processes or features communicate such information. Using a model of emotion developed in psychology that treats emotional expressivity as an individual-level trait, this article provides a theoretical account of why emotional expressivity may provide reliable signals of political orientation, and it tests the theory in four empirical studies. We find statistically significant liberal/conservative differences in self-reported emotional expressivity, in facial emotional expressivity measured physiologically, in the perceived emotional expressivity and ideology of political elites, and in an experiment that finds that more emotionally expressive faces are perceived as more liberal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-67
Number of pages15
JournalPolitics and the Life Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018


  • Emotion
  • faces
  • ideology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Public Administration


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