Detecting trustworthiness

The Modular Nature of Trustworthiness Detection
By: Bonnefon, Jean-François (Centre national de la recherche scientifique)
De Neys, Wim (Centre national de la recherche scientifique)
Hopfensitz, Astrid (TSE)

The capacity to trust wisely is a critical facilitator of success and prosperity, and it has been conjectured that people of higher intelligence were better able to detect signs of untrustworthiness from potential partners. In contrast, this article reports five Trust Game studies suggesting that reading trustworthiness on the faces of strangers is a modular process. Trustworthiness detection from faces is independent of general intelligence (Study 1) and effortless (Study 2). Pictures that include non-facial features such as hair and clothing impair trustworthiness detection (Study 3) by increasing reliance on conscious judgments (Study 4), but people largely prefer to make decisions from this sort of pictures (Study 5). In sum, trustworthiness detection in an economic interaction is a genuine and effortless ability, possessed in equal amount by people of all cognitive capacities, but whose impenetrability leads to inaccurate conscious judgments and inappropriate informational preferences.

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Dennis Argall
11 years ago

I have for some time thought that the prime minister is seriously disadvantaged by make-up and dress style which obscures her expression and character. Where are her micro-expressions?… A subject about which Paul Ekman is the pioneer writer

Mind you, I think capacity to discern trust has become drowned in the fever of the times.

An article in the current New York Review of Books about Texas politics seems relevant to Australia, especially this bit:

‘To understand why Americans so often approach a political season as if it promised Armageddon, some general questions need to be addressed, but usually aren’t. The first is the fact that there are so many divisions, and they are all somehow mysteriously related. The second is the fact that those who occupy the conservative, traditionalist, red-state side of each division have organised themselves politically with increasing success since 1960, let us say, when the United States elected its first Catholic president [in Australia’s case, let us say, since Australia elected Gough Whitlam who was even worse than Catholics, an intellectual at speed; this inflamed the unreduced sense of ‘natural conservative right to govern unchanging’ born under Menzies]. The third is the fact that the anger driving their efforts appears to be approaching the kind of elevated temperature that can spontaneously ignite the atmosphere.’

The language out there, the fever out there, is getting worse as this blogger reports and laments:

Trust is now a minority concept.

john r walker
11 years ago

sounds very interesting ….
But do not have time today/tomorrow to read it.

A possibly related thing is that the most critical thing in a painting a recognisable likeness is getting the mouth right, eyes are not as important ….. until about 9 months baby’s recognise their mothers by their mothers mouth , cover eyes and the baby will still recognise her mum but cover the mouth and the baby will cry and shy away .

11 years ago

This has been doing the rounds …

It’s from the US of course, but confidence in US public schools has an almost linear downward trend over 40 years. Recent confidence in every institution you care to name is down: churches, banks, justice, and the television news are all looking kind of sad. Maybe we should start thinking about finding someone to blame, before it all gets worse?

Congress ranks last of course. I bet that shocks everyone.

Getting back to the article at hand, kind of interesting. I can’t help thinking that the more people study this stuff, the more we discover both opportunities to exploit other people and also mechanisms for defence (an arms race in other words) but I’m sure it keeps the research funds flowing (as will any arms race).