Body Talk

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D

Baby Face Bias

We were watching a “true crime” show on television. “He doesn’t look like a man who would something like that,” was how my husband Ray explained his reluctance to believe the suspect was guilty.

Ray thinks of himself as highly logical, and as such, has deep suspicions about my body language expertise. But, in this case, I knew he was a victim of “baby face bias” – that tendency to find innocence in faces with features that are similar to an infant’s. And, sure enough, the suspect in question had large eyes, plump lips, a round face and a high, smooth forehead.

I don’t know whether the TV suspect was guilty, but I know that his facial characteristics helped him appear not only innocent, but in need of nurturing and care. Even from my very logical (and highly susceptible) husband.

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