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Indiana University Bloomington

Kurt Hugenberg

Dr. Kurt Hugenberg



khugenb [at]

office: PY355

lab: A212


Stereotyping & Prejudice; Intergroup relations; Face perception; Social categorization and Person construal

Educational Background:

  • 1998 - B.A., Psychology & German, Transylvania University, Lexington, KY
  • 2001 - M.A., Social Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • 2003 - Ph.D., Social Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Research Topics:

  • Social Cognition
  • Stereotyping & Prejudice
  • Face Perception & Person Perception

Research Summary:

Research in our lab focuses on how perceivers’ stereotypes, prejudices, and prejudice-related motives influence how we categorize, perceive, and understand others. Much of the work that we do has a particular focus on how perceptions of others’ faces and bodies interface with beliefs about social groups.

In one ongoing line of research, we have been investigating how we use cues in others faces and bodies to make inferences about their minds. Put simply, how do we decide whether someone is mentally sophisticated or simplistic? Perhaps surprisingly, perceivers often use quick judgments about their faces and bodies to make these judgments. For example, we have found that how we perceive others’ faces is directly linked to how we perceive their minds. It appears that triggering basic face processing mechanisms we use to differentiate human faces appear to trigger inferences that people have minds behind their eyes. Further, perceivers often unwittingly use features of others faces and bodies themselves, such as their facial structure (e.g., facial width-to-height ratio), their eye gaze, and their body and bodily movements to make inferences about whether others have sophisticated humanlike minds, or not.

In a second line of ongoing research, we have investigated how social categories, and their attendant stereotypes, prejudices, and motives, can bias or distort how we read others’ non-verbal behavior. In some of our early work, we have investigated how race and prejudice can distort how Whites read anger on the faces of Blacks, with especially highly prejudiced Whites essentially over-perceiving anger in otherwise neutrally expressive Black faces. More recently, we have extended this work to the perceptions of Blacks’ bodies as well, finding that White perceivers tend to over-perceive the size of Black males’ bodies, due to the race-related anxiety. Finally, we’ve also been investigating how social group memberships influence truth-versus-lie judgments in a lie detection contacts. We have recently found that target race and gender appear to distort decision thresholds for truth and lie judgments, and that targets’ socio-economic status biases judgments about others’ pain thresholds in a conceptually congruent manner.

  • Hugenberg, K., Young, S. G., Rydell, R. J., Almaraz, S. M., Stanko, K. A., See, P. E., & Wilson, J. P. (2016). The face of humanity: Configural face processing influences ascriptions of humanness. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 167-175.
  • Cassidy, B. S., Krendl, A. C., Stanko, K. A., Rydell, R. J., Hugenberg, K., & Young, S. G. (2017). Configural face processing impacts race disparities in humanization and trust. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 73, 111-124.
  • Deska, J. D., & Hugenberg, K. . (2017). The face-mind link: Why we see minds behind faces, and how others’ minds change how we see their faces. Social & Personality Psychology Compass, 11, e12361.
  • Kawakami, K., Amodio, D. M., & Hugenberg, K. (2017). Intergroup perception and cognition: An integrative framework for understanding the causes and consequences of social categorization. In J. M. Olson (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 55, pp. 1-80.
  • Lloyd, E. P., Hugenberg, K., McConnell, A. R., Kunstman, J. W., & Deska, J. C. (2017). Black and White lies: Race-based biases in deception judgments. Psychological Science, 28, 1125-1136.
  • Wilson, J. P., Hugenberg, K., & Rule, N. (2017). Racial bias in judgments of Physical size and formidability: From size to threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113, 59-80.
  • Almaraz, S. M., Hugenberg, K. & Young, S. G. (2018). Perceiving sophisticated minds influences perceptual individuation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44, 143-157.
  • Deska, J. D., Lloyd, E. P., & Hugenberg, K. (2018a). Facing humanness: Facial width-to-height ratio predicts ascriptions of humanness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114, 75-94.
  • Lloyd, E. P., Summers, K. M., Hugenberg, K., & McConnell, A. R. (in press). Revisiting perceiver and target gender effects in deception detection. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.