Who can be fooled? Modeling facial impressions of gullibility

Bastian Jaeger*, Erdem O. Meral

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

The success of acts of deceit and exploitation depends on how trusting and naive (i.e., gullible) targets are. In three preregistered studies, using both theory-driven and data-driven approaches, we examined how people form impressions of gullibility based on targets' facial appearance. We find significant consensus in gullibility impressions, suggesting that people have a somewhat shared representation of what a gullible person looks like (Study 1, n = 294). Gullibility impressions are based on different cues than trustworthiness or dominance impressions, suggesting that they constitute dissociable facial stereotypes (Study 2, n = 403). Examining a wide range of facial features, we find that gullibility impressions are primarily based on resemblance to an angry facial expression. We also find that young, female, and smiling individuals were seen as more gullible (Study 3, n = 209). These findings suggest that gullibility impressions are based on cues linked to low levels of perceived threat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-149
JournalSocial Cognition
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • impression formation
  • face perception
  • gullibility
  • emotion -resemblances
  • babyfacedness
  • SOCIAL ATTRIBUTIONS
  • FACES
  • IMPACT
  • CONSEQUENCES
  • FRAUD
  • EXPRESSIONS
  • INFERENCES
  • SELECTION
  • DATABASE
  • SMILES

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