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Facial Features Influence Perception of Trust

Facial Features Influence Perception of Trust In the classic country-and-western song, the singer is so down in the dumps that her troubles could “make my brown eyes blue.” According to a new study, that would make others trust her less.

The research suggests that people generally view brown-eyed faces as more trustworthy than those with blue eyes.

Investigators set out to answer the following question: What makes us think a person’s face looks trustworthy? To do this, researchers asked study participants to rate male and female faces for trustworthiness based on two features: eye color and face shape.

They discovered a significant number of participants found brown-eyed faces more trustworthy than blue-eyed, whether the faces were male or female.

More rounded male faces, with bigger mouths and larger chins, were perceived as more trustworthy than narrow ones, but the shape of a female face did not have much effect on how trustworthy it appeared to the respondents.

To determine whether eye color or facial features were more important for determining trustworthiness, researchers tried a third test, presenting participants with photographs of male faces that were identical except for one difference: eye color.

Here, they found that both eye colors were considered equally trustworthy.

According to the study, “We concluded that although the brown-eyed faces were perceived as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones, it was not brown eye color per se that caused the stronger perception of trustworthiness but rather the facial features associated with brown eyes.”

Scientists have published their findings in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Source: Public Library of Science

Facial Features Influence Perception of Trust

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Facial Features Influence Perception of Trust. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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