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Thin Slicing Our Way to Selfprotection: Stereotypical Reality and the Perception of Criminal Type

Description: Physiognomists have applied the study of human facial characteristics to personality since Lavatar’s work in the 18th C (Lavatar, 1866). Frequently dismissed as an absurd practice with dangerous implications, people routinely, deliberately, and instinctually apply these same inferential principles to first impression formation. Evolutionary psychologists posit that aspects of human cognition may have evolved to facilitate detection and defensive responses to individuals who intend to do us harm (Schaller, 2008). Self-protection and preservation are in the interest of survival of the species. The present work examines the understudied area of predictive ability to identify criminals by crime type. A large sample of respondents (n=2,824) drawn from a large Midwestern university were asked to match 10 criminal offenses to 10 randomly selected Department of Corrections identification photographs. Analyses of accuracy included both respondent demographic differences as well as offender to offense identification. Respondents identified six out of 10 crime categories at a rate significantly greater than chance, lending support to the contention that research examining the predictive accuracy of perception, has great utility in the areas of self-protection, preservation, and threat/harm reduction.

Suggested Citation:
Krienert, J.L., Walsh, J.A., Acquaviva, B.L., (2019). Thin Slicing Our Way to Selfprotection: Stereotypical Reality and the Perception of Criminal Type [Electronic Version]. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 14(2), 120-135.

Keywords: Thin slicing; self-protection; impression formation; personality judgement; social perception

Date: Jan 23, 2019 | File Size: 338.77 Kb | Downloads: 74

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