Lifespan Speaker Series – Why Faces Matter: Recognizing People & Forming First Impressions across the Lifespan

Recognizing faces is important when interacting with others or even when tracking characters in a movie or television series. First impressions (nice or mean?) guide our behaviour towards others.

This webinar hosted on April 29, 2021, presented by Brock University’s Dr. Cathy Mondloch and students, explored some fascinating questions about face perception:

  • How does our ability to recognize faces change across the lifespan?
  • How do first impressions of child and older adult faces influence our behaviour towards them?
  • Why should you carefully consider which photo to post on social media or on a job application?

Please note that this webinar does not recommend any specific resource and/or treatment options, nor is it intended to provide individual advice. Individuals should consult with their healthcare team/treatment provider for all healthcare recommendations and decisions.

We would like to acknowledge the support from the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Office of Research Services, which helped to make this event possible.

Watch the recording of the webinar here:

Here are some relevant references for the presentation:

Antonakis, J., & Dalgas, O. (2009). Predicting elections: Child’s play! Science, 323, 1183. 

Bagnis, A., Caffo, E., Cipolli, C., De Palma, A., Farina, G., & Mattarozzi, K. (2020). Judging health care pirority in emergency situations: Patient facial appearance matters. Social Science & Medicine, 260, 113180-. 

Collova, J. R., Sutherland, C. A., & Rhodes, G. (2019). Testing the functional basis of first impressions: Dimensions for children’s faces are not the same as for adults’ faces. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(5), 900-924. 

Jenkins, R., White, D., Van Montfort, X., & Burton, A. M. (2011). Variability in photos of the same face. Cognition, 121, 313–323. 

Laurence, S., & Mondloch, C. J. (2016). That’s my teacher! Children’s ability to recognize personally familiar and unfamiliar faces improves with age. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 143, 123-138. 

Laurence, S., Zhou, X., & Mondloch, C. J. (2016). The flip side of the other‐race coin: They all look different to me. British Journal of Psychology, 107, 374-388. 

Matthews, C. M., Davis, E. E., & Mondloch, C. J. (2018). Getting to know you: The development of mechanisms underlying face learning, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 167, 295-313.  

Matthews, C.M., & Mondloch, C.J. Learning faces from variability: Four- and five-year-olds differ from older children and adults. (Submitted to Journal of Experimental Child Psychology). 

Oosterhof, N. N. & Alexander Todorov. (2008). The functional basis of face evaluation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(32), 11087–11092. 

Todorov, A., Mandisodza, A. N., Goren, A., & Hall, C. C. (2005). Inferences of competence from faces predict election outcomes. Science, 308(5728), 1623–1626. 

Wilson, J. P., & Rule, N. O. (2015). Facial trustworthiness predicts extreme criminal-sentencing outcomes. Psychological Science, 26(8), 1325–1331.  


Dr. Cathy Mondloch, Professor, Department of Psychology, Brock University

Claire Matthews, PhD student under Dr. Cathy Mondloch, Department of Psychology, Brock University

Anita Twele, MA student under Dr. Cathy Mondloch, Department of Psychology, Brock University

Sophia Thierry, MA student under Dr. Cathy Mondloch, Department of Psychology, Brock University

If you have any questions about this event or would like to sign up for updates on future Lifespan Institute events please contact us at