Purpose: Processing and interpreting the face is generally very important in daily life. Interpretation and attribution of traits is significant, particularly when assessing persons who do not conform to social norms. In addition to the aesthetic aspect, attributions made on the basis of “implicit personality theories” are worthy of mention.
Materials and methods: 92 probands used a computer-assisted test battery to assess 40 profiles of patients (8 progenic and 8 prognathic ones, each pre- and postoperatively, with 8 normognathic photographs serving as controls). On a 7-point Likert scale the probands were asked to evaluate aesthetics and a few relevant personality traits (e.g. unintelligent, inhibited, aggressive, and brutal).
Results: Photographs of both patient groups were rated significantly less attractive and less intelligent before the operation than photographs of controls. In respect of personality traits, especially the photographs of the progenic group showed much more pronounced deviations from the norm in that they were rated significantly more dominant, brutal and aggressive. With regard to aesthetics and intelligence, the assessments of the two patient groups revealed a marked shift in favour of the norm after orthognathic surgery. For some personality traits, significant interactions were registered between the two groups on pre/post comparison.
Conclusion: The method underlying the study is useful to evaluate the results of orthognathic surgery. The outcome of orthodontic surgery, when assessed by uninvolved persons on profile photographs, is rated more attractive. Externally attributed traits tend to be attenuated in the process.
Conflict of interest: None declared.