Princeton University Library Catalog

Facial Perception in Major League Baseball: Evaluations of Future Career Success on the Basis of Subconscious Facial Perception

Goetz, Alexander [Browse]
Senior thesis
Todorov, Alexander [Browse]
Cooper, Joel [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year:
52 pages
Summary note:
This experiment was designed to examine whether it is possible to make an accurate judgment of an individual’s athletic talent and to predict his future career success based solely on a momentary viewing of an image of the athlete’s face. Prior studies have suggested that a particular set of facial characteristics appear to indicate the face of a model or prototypical baseball player (i.e. a “good face”) and that these characteristics are common among successful players (North, Baron, & Todorov, 2012). The present research therefore focused specifically on professional baseball athletes in order to test the validity of the prior findings. Subjects were asked to view facial images of a wide range of baseball players and to make an immediate judgment regarding each player’s level of current talent and future career success; their judgments were then compared to the career statistics for each player to test the accuracy of their predictions. Additionally, the test subjects were divided in two groups: one group consisted of Division I varsity baseball players, who logically have a great deal of experience with the game and its players, while the other group consisted of non-baseball players, who displayed markedly less knowledge or interest in the game of baseball and its players. This was done to test whether baseball players, by virtue of their experience and familiarity with the sport, would be better at making intuitive judgments and distinguishing a “good face” than the non-player group. The results proved to be unexpected and somewhat counterintuitive in that both groups assigned higher ratings of future success to the players who, as measured statistically, were the least talented and least successful of the candidates. The subjects in the baseball playing group, however, were slightly less prone to this misjudgment.