Head Tilt: Implications (06-14-19)

Research conducted by Witkower and Tracy indicates that the tilt of someone’s head has a significant influence on how other people think about them; design can make it more or less likely that people’s heads are at the same level, so this study can have practical implications.  The researchers determined that “head movements can dramatically shift the appearance of the face to shape social judgments without engaging facial musculature. In five studies . . . we found that when eye gaze was directed forward, tilting one’s head downward (compared with a neutral angle) increased perceptions of dominance, and this effect was due to the illusory appearance of lowered and V-shaped eyebrows caused by a downward head tilt.”  During the study, the heads of people being assessed were “tilted upward 10° . . . at a neutral angle (i.e., 0°), or . . . tilted downward 10°. Eye gaze was directed toward participants in all stimuli.”  Dominance is “defined as the use of intimidation or threat to influence other people.”

Zachary Witkower and Jessica Tracy.  2019.  “A Facial-Action Imposter:  How Head Tilt Influences Perceptions of Dominance From a Neutral Face.”  Psychological Science, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 893-906, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797619838762