Do facial characteristics influence acceptance of health and safety messages?

Document Type

Journal Article


American Research Institute for Policy Development

Place of Publication

United States


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Parker, I., Oosthuizen, J., & Costello, L. (2015). Do facial characteristics influence acceptance of health and safety messages? International Journal of Health Sciences, 3(1), 77-91. doi: 10.15640/ijhs.v3n1a5. Available here


Physiognomy is the art of judging temperament and character from outward appearance. The aim of this study was to legitimize the expectations of facial physiognomy in audience interpretation and recall of safety related messages. Mixed methods were utilize d to describe and analyse data for free facial and image description and the recall of facts presented in the image testimonial. F acial physiognomy was explored along four dimensions ranging from more trustworthy/less trustworthy and more dominant/less dominant dimensions and these images were introduced along with a printed message on electrical safety (n=100). Remarkable interactions between a source - credibility subscale and perceived dominance scale suggests that th ere is an innate frame of reference used by humans whereby decision judgments are made based on another person’s facial physiognomy. Furthermore, there is an atypical innate and perhaps evolved, or socialized, response with respect to whether humans will a pproach or avoid another person based on their facial physiognomy and people do make decision judgments based on dominance, trustworthiness, approach or avoidance behaviour and recall of information differs based on somatic facial characteristics when pres ented with an avatar of a human face in a workplace safety advertisement. The physiognomic appearance of an endorser can influence the believability and attitude components of potential target audiences; and thus, the impact of the intended message



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