‘Looks may decide whether to trust a person’May 16th, 2012 - 1:11 pm ICT by IANS
London, May 16 (IANS) Looks more likely decide who we would trust with our money rather than their reputation, says a new study.
Researchers from Britain’s University of Warwick Business School and the University College London along with colleagues at the Dartmouth College, US, carried out a series of experiments to see if people made decisions to trust others based on their faces.
They found people are more likely to invest money in someone whose face is generally perceived as trustworthy, even when they are given negative information about that person’s reputation, the journal Public library of Science ONE reports.
The team used a computer algorithm to create a set of 20 pairs of faces at opposing ends of the trustworthiness scale. This computer software modifies the apparent trustworthiness of faces by altering their features, according to a Warwick statement.
Researchers were able to experimentally manipulate the unfakeable features (those related to shape of the face) that make a person look trustworthy or untrustworthy. These 40 faces were then used in a series of trust games with participants.
Each volunteer was given a sum of money and told they could invest any part of the amount in a trustee whose face appeared on the screen. Any amount they invested would be tripled and volunteers were told it was then up to the trustee to decide how much to send back to them.
Thus participants had an incentive to invest only in trustees who could be expected to return more than the invested amount. Researchers found that 13 out of 15 participants invested more, on average, in the trustworthy identities.
In a second experiment, researchers gave the volunteers information about whether the trustees had good or bad histories. Even with this inside information, the average amount invested in those who looked ‘trustworthy’ was six percent higher.
Chris Olivola from the University of Warwick’s Business School said: “Trustees with good and bad histories benefited equally from trustworthy-looking facial features. The temptation to judge strangers by their faces is hard to resist.”
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Tags: colleagues, computer algorithm, computer software, dartmouth college, faces, histories, pairs, participants, public library of science, reputation, s university, study researchers, sum of money, trustee, trustworthiness, university college london, university of warwick, volunteer, volunteers, warwick business school