Trustworthiness detection from faces: Does reliance on facial impressions pay off?

Bastian Jaeger, Bastiaan Oud, Tony Williams, Eva Krumhuber, Ernst Fehr, Jan Engelmann

Research output: Working paperScientific

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While people readily form and rely on trustworthiness impressions from faces, the question of whether these impressions are accurate remains debated. The present research examines whether having access to the facial appearance of counterparts provides a strategic advantage to participants when making trust decisions. Furthermore, we investigated whether people show above-chance accuracy in trustworthiness detection (a) when they make trust decisions vs. provide explicit trustworthiness ratings, (b) when judging male vs. female counterparts, and (c) when rating cropped images (with non-facial features removed) vs. uncropped images. Results showed that incentivized trust decisions (Study 1, n = 131) and predictions of counterparts’ trustworthiness (Study 2, n = 266) were unrelated to actual trustworthiness. Moreover, accuracy was not moderated by stimulus type (cropped vs. uncropped faces) or counterparts’ gender. Overall, these findings suggest that people are unable to detect the trustworthiness of strangers based on their facial appearance.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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