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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02499

The Role of the Face Itself in the Face Effect: Sensitivity, Expressiveness, and Anticipated Feedback in Individual Compliance

 Maggie Wenjing Liu1*,  Qichao Zhu1 and Yige Yuan2
  • 1School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, China
  • 2Department of Marketing, School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, China

Face-to-face interactions are central to many individual choices and decision making issues, such as customer service, sales, promotions, and negotiations. While the face effect, i.e., face-to-face interactions are more effective in inducing compliance than other forms of interactions, has been noted in literature, its mechanism has rarely been explored. This research helps to fill the theoretical void and provides new insights into the face effect with two lab experiments and one field experiment. Study 1, a field experiment conducted in a beauty salon, and Study 2, a lab experiment, show that the face effect is largely attributable to anticipated facial feedback, and that the face effect is stronger when individuals are sensitive to face and when the requester’s face is expressive. Study 3 using video-simulated face-to-face interactions demonstrates that anticipated facial feedback, not necessarily actual feedback, is enough to drive the face effect. In so doing, this research furthers our understanding of factors that affect individual compliance in face-to-face interactions in both the “sending” and “receiving” stages. We discuss the theoretical and empirical implications, limitations, and future avenues of research.

Keywords: the face effect, Compliance, Feedback, Facial expressiveness, interpersonal sensitivity

Received: 24 May 2018; Accepted: 23 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Wenfeng Chen, Department of psychology, Renmin University of China, China

Reviewed by:

Yu-Hao P. Sun, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, China
Xuehua Wang, East China Normal University, China  

Copyright: © 2018 Liu, Zhu and Yuan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Maggie Wenjing Liu, Tsinghua University, School of Economics and Management, Beijing, China,