How facial aging affects perceived gender: Insights from maximum likelihood conjoint measurement

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Conjoint measurement was used to investigate the joint influence of facial gender and facial age on perceived gender (Experiment 1) and perceived age (Experiment 2). A set of 25 faces was created, covarying independently five levels of gender (from feminine to masculine) and five levels of age (from young to old). Two independent groups of observers were presented with all possible pairs of faces from this set and compared which member of the pair appeared as more masculine (Experiment 1) or older (Experiment 2). Three nested models of the contribution of gender and age to judgment (i.e., independent, additive, and saturated) were fit to the data using maximum likelihood. The results showed that both gender and age contributed to the perceived gender and age of the faces according to a saturated observer model. In judgments of gender (Experiment 1), female faces were perceived as more masculine as they became older. In judgments of age (Experiment 2), young faces (age 20 and 30) were perceived as older as they became more masculine. Taken together, the results entail that: (a) observers integrate facial gender and age information when judging either of the dimensions, and that (b) cues for femininity and cues for aging are negatively correlated. This correlation exerts stronger influence on female faces, and can explain the success of cosmetics in concealing signs of aging and exaggerating sexually dimorphic features.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • conjoint measurement
  • facial age
  • facial gender
  • social categorization


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