Configurational relations of a face as a source of information about personality



The possibilities of obtaining information about the identity of a third party were studied in different ways of depicting a face. The results of two series of experiments were compared, in which the same configuration relations were included in the context of either a schematic face made up of abstract geometric figures or photographic portraits of specific people. Stimulus material was based on the figures of E. Brunswick (1956), demonstrating the dependence of induced expressions (joy/gust) on the spatial organization of the face. Assessment of individual psychological features of the sitter and self-assessment of observers were performed using the Personal Differential method. As a result of the analysis the general regularities of perception of a person in the created conditions are revealed: polarization of estimations of features and their asymmetry defined by impressions about the state of modelers — real or imaginary. Two nonspecific phenomena of interpersonal perception related to transformations of the configuration relations of the face have been revealed: (1) inversion of the attractiveness of the person shown in the photo, and (2) doubling of the personality of the virtual sitter. It is shown that the influence of the observer’s self-esteem on the modeler’s assessment depends both on the type of the face image and on the direction of configuration transformations. The obtained results are interpreted in terms of the dynamics of constellation of features, the mechanism of super generation of emotional manifestations and halo-effect of attractiveness. The methodology of general psychological research of interpersonal perception based on the variation of configuration relations of the face is substantiated.

General Information

Keywords: interpersonal perception, basic emotions, personality traits, configuration relations of the face, schematic face, photo images of the face, Brunswick’s figures, visual estimation of states and personality traits, self-assessment of the observer, inversion of attractiveness, doubling of the virtual sitter’s personality, constellation of represented features

Journal rubric: Face Science

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The work was supported by the RNF, project No. 18-18-00350 “Perception in the structure of non-verbal communication”.

For citation: Barabanschikov V.A. Configurational relations of a face as a source of information about personality. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2019. Vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 28–46. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2019120303. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Vladimir A. Barabanschikov, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Director, Institute of Experimental Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Dean of the Faculty of Psychology, Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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