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The valence-dominance model applies to body perception

Cite this dataset

Tzschaschel, Eva; Brooks, Kevin R.; Stephen, Ian D. (2022). The valence-dominance model applies to body perception [Dataset]. Dryad.


First impressions of a person are often based on appearance. The widely accepted valence-dominance face perception model (1) posits that social judgements of faces fall along two orthogonal dimensions: trustworthiness (valence) and dominance. The current study aimed to establish principal components of social judgements based on perception of bodies, hypothesising that these would follow the same dimensions as face perception. Stimuli were black and white photographs showing bodies dressed in grey clothing, standing in their natural posture (left profile). Raters (N=237) judged the stimuli on 14 traits used in Oosterhof and Todorov’s original study (1). Data were analysed using principal components (PCA) analysis, as in the original study, with an additional exploratory factor analysis using oblique rotation. While PCA analysis produced a third dimension in line with several replications of the original study, results from the exploratory factor analysis produced two dimensions, representing trustworthiness and dominance, providing support for the hypothesis that social perceptions of bodies can be summarised using the valence-dominance model. These two factors could represent universal perceptions we have about people. Future research could explore social judgements of humans based on other stimuli, such as voices to evaluate whether trustworthiness and dominance dimensions are consistent across modalities.


Raters (N=237) judged 121 photographs (stimuli) via Qualtrics on 14 traits. Stimuli were collected by photographing 63 female and 58 male volunteers. 

Usage notes

We used JASP, an open-source statistics program version 0.92 and, and RStudio, version 1.2.5019.