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Would you trust this man?

Image-conscious politicians wishing to alter their ‘public faces’ could make themselves appear more trustworthy if they manipulated photographs of themselves.

Facial perception experts at the University of St Andrews believe that clever subtle manipulation of images supplied to the public could alter and improve public perception of leading figures in the public eye. Conversely, rival parties could manipulate the images of opposing leaders to make them appear less trustworthy, healthy, or intelligent.

The research team will demonstrate how face images and voices can be manipulated using sophisticated computer technology at an exhibition in London this week. They have already manipulated images of Tony Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy to make their facial characteristics appear more and less trustworthy.

One of the researchers, R. Elisabeth Cornwell said: “Our work on perception has shown clearly that subtle changes to facial characteristics can alter how the viewer perceives that person. For example if you masculinise a person’s face by making the brow heavier, widening the jaw, squaring the chin, increasing nose size and decreasing eye size you can make people perceive the individual as both more dominant and less trustworthy. Equally, if you do the reverse with these features you feminise the face and get someone to look more trustworthy but less dominant.”

The images will be on display at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition which previews tonight (5 July 2004).

Cornwell is a research assistant at the University’s world-renowned Perception Lab which develops software to manipulate facial images and voices. She is lead organiser of the ‘Should we judge a book by its cover?’ exhibit.

She continued: “It is entirely possible that images of public figures could be subtly manipulated to alter a viewer’s perception to the advantage or disadvantage of that public figure. To illustrate this point we have applied our current knowledge to alter images of the leaders of the three main political parties, making them look more dominant and also more trustworthy.”

“Masculine facial features are associated with high levels of the hormone testosterone during development. Higher levels of testosterone are also associated with aggression and dominant behaviour well into adulthood, so these facial features are acting as an external signal to others.”

ENDS

NOTE TO PICTURE EDITORS:

To download the original and altered images go to: www.royalsoc.ac.uk/exhibitors/image s (available now)

Please ensure that the correct credits are given for each image.

Weblinks: http://www.perceptionlab.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

ELISABETH CORNWELL AND REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ST ANDREWS TEAM ARE AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW TODAY ON 01334 463044, EMAIL ec29@st-andrews.ac.uk OR CONTACTABLE AT THE EXHIBITION NEXT WEEK THROUGH THE ROYAL SOCIETY CONTACT TIM WATSON OR BOB WARD, TEL: 020 7451 2508/2510 OR 07811 320346

1.The exhibit ‘Should we judge a book by its cover?’ is part of the Royal Society’s annual Summer Science Exhibition. The exhibition features a total of 25 exhibits and is free-of-charge and open to all during the following times:

Mon 5 July 6.00pm to 9.00pm – note evening opening time Tues 6 July 11.00am to 4.30pm Wed 7 July 10.00am to 4.30pm Thurs 8 July 10.00am to 4.30pm

2.For more information go to: www.royalsoc.ac.uk or www.sc1.ac.uk

3.The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit, not by field. The Society’s objectives are to: ·strengthen UK science by providing support to excellent individuals ·fund excellent research to push back the frontiers of knowledge ·attract and retain the best scientists ·ensure the UK engages with the best science around the world ·support science communication and education; and communicate and encourage dialogue with the public ·provide the best independent advice nationally and internationally ·promote scholarship and encourage research into the history of science

For further information on the RS contact: Tim Watson or Bob Ward, Tel: 020 7451 2508/2510 or 07811 320346

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: trustworthy politicians pr 020704.doc View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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