Who can be fooled? Modeling perceptions of gullibility from facial appearance

Research output: Working paperScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

In many situations, ranging from cooperative exchange to fraud, people are faced with the challenge to judge how trusting or naïve (i.e., gullible) others are. In three studies, using both theory-driven and data-driven methods, we examine how people form gullibility judgments based on a person’s facial appearance. People have a shared representation of what a gullible person looks like. Gullibility impressions are positively related to trustworthiness impressions, but negatively related to dominance impressions (Study 1, n = 254). Examining the influence of a wide range of facial characteristics, we find that gullibility impressions are based on cues that have been linked to low levels of perceived threat, such as babyfacedness (Study 2, n = 403) and smiles (Study 3, n = 209). Together, these findings show that people form gullibility judgments based on facial cues that are seen as indicators of relative harmlessness (i.e., positive intentions and low capabilities).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 2020

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