Department of Psychology, University of Torino, via Verdi 10, Torino, 10124, Italy; Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Center of Research on Psychology in Somatic Diseases, Tilburg University, P.O. Box 901535, 5000, LE, Tilburg, the Netherlands. Electronic address: [Email]
Social neuroscience is unveiling how the brain coordinates the construal of social categories and the generation of intergroup biases from facial perception. Recent evidence indicates that social categorization is more sensitive and malleable to elemental facial features than previously assumed. At the same time, perception of social categories can be crafted by top-down factors, including prior knowledge, motivations, and social expectations. In this review, we summarize extant wisdom and propose a model that goes beyond traditional accounts that have conceived stereotypes and prejudices as the end result of "reading out" social categories in the face, and have assumed a hierarchical brain organization. Our model proposes recursive and dynamic interactions amid distant brain regions. Accordingly, the reciprocal exchange of sensory evidence and predictions biases and "explains away" visual input in face perception regions until a compromise is achieved and social perception stabilizes. Ideally, this effort would contribute to shape a research field at the interface between neural and social sciences, which is often referred to as social vision.