Aggression and Facial Morphology: Violent Criminal Activity Linked To Larger Width-to-Height Ratios in Criminal Mugshots
Authors:Jessica Ayers, Gorge Romero
Mentor:Aaron Goetz, Assistant Professor of Psychology, California State University Fullerton
Facial morphology provides a plethora of information necessary for individuals to make judgments about others (e.g., trustworthiness, reliability, and formidability) and engage in different forms of social interactions (e.g., coalitions, friendships, and warfare). Recently, it has been shown that larger facial width-to-height ratios (WHR) are linked with increased aggressive behaviors in males. Given this, we attempted to determine if there is a distinguishable difference of facial WHR between different types of criminal offenders. It was hypothesized that, by using forty-six mugshots obtained from a public database, the WHR of violent criminal offenders would be larger than the WHR of non-violent criminal offenders. The differentiation between the types of offenders was operationalized by violent criminal offenders being charged with aggravated assault (i.e., victim hospitalization due to sustained injuries) and non-violent offenders were defined by charges of possession of a controlled substance or driving with a suspended license. Results indicated that violent criminal offenders did have significantly higher WHR than non-violent criminal offenders. Discussion focuses practical implications for WHR in the real-world scenarios.