Revealing the information hidden in faces

The Face Facts team is a multidisciplinary group that combines Psychology with Biology, Computer Science and Anthropology.

Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology
University of Glasgow



New Face Skin Spin   + Holo


How do humans recognise kin?

The Kinship project is a 5-year European Research Council funded project investigating the question “How do humans recognise kin?”

This project is led by Dr Lisa DeBruine, one of the founders of Face Facts. Dr Iris Holzleitner and Kieran O'Shea are postdoctoral researchers employed on the project and Vanessa Fasolt is a PhD student involved with the project. Dr Anthony Lee was employed as a postdoc on the project from 2015-2016 and is currently completing a 2-year ERC Marie Curie Fellowship in the lab.

Participating in the Project

If you had your 3D Family Photos taken at the Glasgow Science Centre or at Hunter Halls for the 2016 Glasgow Science Festival, you can access your 3D interactive face at My Faces by entering your photo code.

You can email kinship@facelab.org to set up an appointment to have your photos taken in our lab on the University of Glasgow Hillhead campus. We are keen to photograph families from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds to combat the bias of most research on faces being done with only white or East Asian faces.

KINSHIP in the Media

  • Your Face Says it All (2016) Channel 4

    Dr DeBruine spoke on face perception generally and facial resemblance among kin.
  • Finding My Twin Stranger (2016) Channel 4

    We assessed facial resemblance between doppelgängers using 2D and 3D image assessments developed for the KINSHIP project. Dr Holzleitner was featured in the documentary running the 3D camera, while Dr DeBruine was featured in the documentary explaining the science behind facial similarity metrics to the participants.
  • Cousins: A Wedding In The Family (production title) BBC3

    We created self-resembling and father-resembling images for the subject of the documentary, an 18-year-old trying to decide whether or not to pursue a cousin marriage. Dr DeBruine also spoke to her about the research on mate choice and family resemblance.


  • DeBruine, L. M., Jones, B. C. & Little, A. C. (2017). Positive Sexual Imprinting For Human Eye Color. BioRχiv (preprint). doi: 10.1101/135244
  • DeBruine, L. M., Hahn, A. C. & Jones, B. C. (2016). Perceiving infant faces. Current Opinion in Psychology, 7: 87-91. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.08.010
  • Dal Martello, M. F., DeBruine, L. M. & Maloney, L. T. (2015). Allocentric kin recognition is not affected by facial inversion. Journal of Vision, 15(13): 5. doi: 10.1167/15.13.5
Iris, Robbie, Ant and Amanda at the Glasgow Science Centre.
Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology University of Glasgow


Combining Psychology with Biology,

Computer Science and Anthropology

Combining Psychology with Biology, Computer Science and Anthropology
Select tags below and click a face to see the average
Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology
University of Glasgow



Participate in demonstrations of our experimental studies and learn more about how we use computer-graphics to understand how humans perceive faces.

Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology
University of Glasgow


Who looks healthier?

Click on the face of the baby who looks cuter

More Experiments The Science


Find the Expression

Different expressions take different amounts of time to see.

In this experiment, you will be asked to find specific expressions. On each trial, you will see 4 faces. After a few seconds, they will start to move and you need to tap on the target expression as fast as you can.

Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology University of Glasgow


Take My Picture


Image Info

Who is in this image?

Someone I know
they know I'm using this image
Someone I know
they don't know I'm using this image
A public figure


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What is the sex/gender of the person in this image?



Image Info

What is the facial expression of this image?



Image Info

What is the ethnic background of the person in this image? (choose all that apply)

Black / African / Caribbean
East Asian / Pacific Islander
West Asian / Indian
White / European
Native American
Latin@ / Hispanic
Other Ethnicity
Not Human


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What is the age of the person in this image?

under 10
over 100


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Where is the person in this image from? (select all that apply)


Image Info

Tags: put anything here, like your first name, job, your school, etc. This will be used to create averages of categories like teachers, rugby fans, or Glaswegians. Separate tags with commas.

Popular Tags


Average Faces - Click on the faces below to select them

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My Faces
Harry Potter
Sci Fi
Click on the faces above to select them, then click the average button


My Faces

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My Exhibit 3D Faces (click to open in the 3D viewer)
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Transform Faces

Select a face, then choose a transform below
Select a face above, then choose a transformation



Click on the questions below to learn more about the research we do using computer-graphic faces.

How do we use computer graphic techniques for manipulating face images?

We use computer graphic methods like the ones on the Transform Faces page to manipulate faces along a dimension, like weight or masculinity. Examining how those manipulations shape judgments like attractiveness or health can reveal what dimensions influence particular judgments. We can then compare those effects between different groups of people, like men and women or people from different cultures, to investigate how different groups of people respond to those dimensions.

A male face transformed from more feminine than average to more masculine than average

How do we use average faces to study social judgments?

We can make composite faces with the average shape, colour and texture information for faces that are perceived to be particularly high on a trait or physical characteristic and faces that are perceived to be particularly low on that trait or characteristic. For example, we can create composites representing the average facial appearance of people with particularly good or poor medical health. By asking people to say which of the two faces looks healthiest, more attractive or more trustworthy, we can establish whether the faces of people with good medical health look healthier, more attractive or more trustworthy than those of people with poor medical health.

Average healthy-looking face
Average unhealthy-looking face

What different types of facial cues matter for social judgments of faces?

Many different types of facial cues influence social judgments. For example, increasing the masculinity of face shapes makes people look more aggressive, and giving faces a golden glow shows that facial colour information influences health judgments. Dynamic information, such as eye movements and facial expressions, can also be very important for social judgments of faces. People prefer faces that are making eye contact with them, particularly when they are smiling.

What are top-down and bottom-up analyses?

Top-down analyses of faces are ones where a researcher takes an idea from scientific theories, uses that idea to generate a hypothesis about how a particular facial cue might influence social judgments, and then designs an experiment to test that hypothesis. Work linking masculine facial traits to perceptions of aggressiveness is a good example of the utility of that approach; researchers took ideas from work on non-human animals suggesting males in many species displaying more masculine characteristics had higher social rank and designed experiments to test for similar effects in human social judgments.

An aggressive mandrill
An aggressive man

Bottom-up analyses are different because they are less reliant on theories to generate the initial ideas. Bottom-up analyses construct models of how people respond to randomly selected combinations of traits and use those models to reveal the different combinations of traits that underpin different social judgments. Research demonstrating cultural differences in the information people use to judge emotions is a good example of this approach.

Both top-down and bottom-up analyses are now commonly used in face research, helping researchers to test key predictions from existing theories and generate new theories for the next generation of scientists.

Does experience shape how people respond to facial cues?

Yes. If people are shown faces manipulated to possess a particular trait, they generally begin to think that that trait is more normal and, as a consequence, often find it more attractive. This is often referred to as visual adaptation. For faces, the effects are typically specific to the category of faces you were shown. For example, experience with men’s faces that are manipulated to have wide-spaced eyes makes other men’s faces with wide-spaced eyes look more normal and attractive, but does not really alter how people perceive female faces with that trait. The effects of experience on responses to facial cues have provided insight into how cultural differences in face perception might emerge.

How does culture influence responses to facial cues?

People in western cultures scan the whole face when judging emotional expressions. By contrast, people in eastern cultures tend to focus primarily on the eye regions. Focusing on the eye regions in this way can make it harder for them to distinguish between emotional expressions that share similar eye information but differ in other ways. For this reason, people in eastern cultures find it harder to distinguish between the emotions disgust and fear than people in western cultures do. Disgust and fear are very similar in the eye regions, but are very different in other face regions.

Eastern Disgust
Eastern Fear
Western Disgust
Western Fear

How similar are face and voice preferences?

Although attractiveness judgments of faces and voices rely on different senses, there is some reason that they can be remarkably similar indeed. For example, women who show particularly strong preferences for masculine characteristics in men’s faces, like strong jaws and heavy brows, also tend to show particularly strong preferences for masculine characteristics in men’s voices, like low pitch. These results suggest that variation among women in their preferences for masculine characteristics is not random but reflects systematic differences in the extent to which women value the characteristics that masculine traits in faces and voices are associated with.

How do we respond to people whose faces look like ours?

Do we like people who have faces that looks like our own? The answer is more complicated than you might expect. Our research has shown that people perceive faces with shape characteristics similar to those in their own face to be particularly trustworthy and, when judging own-sex faces, more attractive. However, people tend to find opposite-sex faces with shape characteristics similar to those in their own face to be relatively unattractive, especially when judging the attractiveness of the faces for a sexual relationship. We seem to have evolved to cooperate with individuals displaying cues of kinship, but find other-sex individuals displaying those cues unappealing as mates.

Two women (left) with their virtual sisters (middle) and virtual brothers (right)

How do we visualise emotions?

The images below show “heat maps” of which facial muscles are active during emotional expressions.


Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology University of Glasgow



Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology University of Glasgow


About Us

The Organisers

  • Lisa DeBruine

    Dr. DeBruine is a Reader in the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow and runs the Face Research Lab with Ben Jones. Her research combines theories from evolutionary biology and cognitive psychology with methods from experimental psychology, behavioural ecology and experimental economics, to explore how physical appearance affects social decision-making. She received the Human Behavior and Evolution Society Early Career Award in 2012. In 2015, she was awarded a €2M 5-year ERC Consolidator Grant to answer the question “How do humans recognise kin?”
  • Rachael Jack

    Dr. Jack is a Lecturer in the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow. Her work focuses on human social communication – i.e., how people transmit and decode signals (e.g., facial expressions) for social interaction – with particular focus on cross-cultural communication. Her interdisciplinary approach combines traditionally distinct fields, such as psychophysics, social psychology, and information theory. She is recipient of the 2013 American Psychological Association New Investigator award and is currently funded by the Open Research Area and ESRC Future Research Leaders Scheme.
  • Philippe Schyns

    Prof. Schyns is head of the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow. He obtained his degree in Psychology in Liege, Belgium, in 1986, and in Computer Science in Louvain, Belgium, in 1988 followed by a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science at Brown University (USA) in 1992. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Action Editor for Psychological Science and Editor of Frontiers in Perception Science. He researches the information processing mechanisms of face, object and scene categorization in the brain.
  • Benedict Jones

    Prof. Jones is a Professor in the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow and runs the Face Research Lab with Lisa DeBruine. His research investigates how people respond to facial cues. In 2012, he was awarded a 5-year ERC Starting Grant to investigate the effects of exogenous hormones on women's perceptions, behaviours and appearance.
  • Amanda Hahn

    Dr. Hahn was a postdoctoral researcher in the Face Research Lab and is currently an assistant professor at Humboldt University in California. Her research focuses on the endocrinological underpinnings of motivation, mate preferences, and responses to infants. She is currently exploring hormone-linked changes in mating behaviours and the impact that hormonal contraceptive use has on these behaviours. As a PhD student at the University of St Andrews, she worked in the Perception Lab, supervised by David Perrett. She completed her Master's Degree in experimental psychology at WWU, as a member of the Human Cognition and Neural Dynamics Lab. As an undergraduate, she studied Biology and Psychology at the University of California, Irvine.
  • Oliver Garrod

    Dr. Garrod is a research technologist working on dynamic perception-based models of facial expression. He graduated from St. Andrews University with BSc (hons) in Psychology and earned his MSc and PhD from Glasgow University.

The Scientific Team

  • Iris Holzleitner

    Dr Holzleitner is a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC-funded project “How do humans recognise kin?”, working on a data-driven model of facial family resemblance to investigate how facial cues to kinship affect prosocial and sexual attitudes. Her recent research has focused on how 3D face shape can be quantified, visualised and manipulated to investigate how shape cues affect social perception. She completed her PhD in 2015 in Psychology at the University of St Andrews, under the supervision of Prof. Dave Perrett. During her undergraduate and master studies in Biology, she worked in the Human Behaviour Research Group with Dr Karl Grammer at the University of Vienna in Austria.
  • Anthony Lee

    Dr Lee wass a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC-funded project “How do humans recognise kin?” from 2015 to 2017. He currently holds a Marie Curie Fellowship. His research interests include how face shape affects social judgments (such as attractiveness), the evolutionary pressures that might underpin these biases, and the social implications of such perceptions. In particular, he's interested in the role of indirect (genetic) benefits on human evolution. He completed his PhD in 2015 at the University of Queensland in Australia.
  • Kieran O'Shea

    Kieran is a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC-funded project “How do humans recognise kin?”.
  • Claire Fisher

    Claire is a research assistant in the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow. She is also working on her PhD in the Face Research Lab, supervised by Ben Jones and Lisa DeBruine. Her research investigates the effects of endogenous and exogenous hormones on women’s mating behaviours and appearance. She is particularly interested in the hormonal correlates of within-woman changes in motivation to appear attractive. Before moving to Glasgow in 2012, Claire studied Psychology at the University of Aberdeen.
  • Michal Kandrik

    Dr Kandrik received his PhD in 2017 and is currently working as a postdoc on Professor Jones' ERC grant in the Face Research Lab. His ESRC funded PhD research investigates the systematic individual differences in men’s mating strategies and mate preferences. Previously Michal completed a Masters degree in Research Methods of Psychological Science at the University of Glasgow. Michal’s undergraduate degree is in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Aberdeen.
  • Hongyi Wang

    Dr Wang received her PhD in 2017 and is currently working as a postdoc on Professor Jones' ERC grant in the Face Research Lab.
  • Chengyang Han

    Chengyang Han is a PhD student in the Face Research Lab, supervised by Benedict Jones and Lisa DeBruine. His research focuses on mate preferences and perceived health cues. He is currently studying relationship between facial attractiveness and facial adiposity and cortisol level. He completed his Master’s Degree in Psychological Studies at University of Glasgow, with Merit. As an undergraduate, he studied Applied Psychology, in China.
  • Ross Whitehead

    Ross is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU) at the University of St Andrews, Scotland where he currently works on the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, an international project focusing on the health and wellbeing of young people across 43 countries in Europe and North America. He completed a PhD in St Andrews under the supervision of Professor David Perrett in the Perception Lab. Dr Whitehead’s face perception research focuses on links between human behaviour and physical appearance and the perceptual consequences of these relationships. He has revealed that modest increases in fruit and vegetable consumption affects skin colouration in a way that is perceived as healthy and attractive. Dr Whitehead has conducted studies to show that these findings can motivate healthy behaviour. Dr Whitehead completed a Master’s Degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and an undergraduate degree in Psychology, both at Durham University, England.
  • Shona Fridh

    Shona Fridh is an undergraduate student at The University of Glasgow and has completed her 2nd year of studies. She has also studied an introductory psychology course at Mid Sweden University. Shona has worked as a volunteer in the Face Research Lab for the past year, helping with data collection for Ben Jones’ ERC project on the behavioural effects of hormonal contraceptive use. Her main interests lie in social psychology and developmental psychology. Besides psychology, she has also studied philosophy, sociology, entrepreneurship and statistics.
  • Chaona Chen

    Chaona Chen is a PhD student in Psychology under supervision of Dr. Rachael Jack and Prof. Philippe Schyns. She is interested in using computer vision to understand the social signals in human communication. In her current projects, she combines the psychophysical methods with a 4-D computer graphics platform to identify the facial expressions of different mental states (e.g., ‘thinking’, ‘confused’) in Western and Eastern culture. Before coming to University of Glasgow, she studied Psychology and Philosophy in Wuhan University as an undergraduate student.
  • Jiayu Zhan

    Jiayu Zhan is a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Schyns. Her research focus on how people perceive faces and its corresponding neural mechanism. She is currently working on the information basis of facial identity and facial emotions. She graduated from Southwest University (China) with BSc in Psychology (First Class), and gained MSc from Peking University (China).
  • Danielle Morrison

    Danielle Morrison is a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow, studying the social perception of bodies. She studied Psychology, Philosophy, and Mathematics at Northern Michigan University for her Bachelor’s degree.
  • Megan Sutherland

    Megan is a high school student aspiring to study psychology. She is working with Rachael Jack under a Nuffield Vacation Studentship and has contributed to different projects using varied technologies such as MRI, EGG and MEG. Megan also has a popular international psychology blog outside of her lab work.

The Support Team

  • Dimensional Imaging

    Dimensional Imaging is a world leading facial performance capture company based in Glasgow and established in 2003. They work globally with organisations across the entertainment and research sectors to develop and deliver high resolution 3D facial image capture and 4D facial performance capture systems, software and services. They provide high fidelity facial data for triple-A video games, movie and TV projects, and research work within the facial surgery, psychology, and orthodontics sectors.
  • Glasgow Science Centre

    The Glasgow Science Centre is one of Scotland's must-see visitor attractions - presenting concepts of science and technology in unique and inspiring ways. Their aims are: to create interactive experiences that inspire, challenge and engage to increase awareness of science; to enhance the quality of science and technology learning; to communicate the role of leading edge science and technology in shaping Scotland's future; to build partnerships to develop our national role in science communication and education; and to promote Scotland's science, education and innovation capability.
Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology University of Glasgow