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Do you judge the trustworthiness based on the looks?

It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.You will probably say no to this and maybe you really think that this is not the case. Because in our society we are past judgement based on looks and we value what’s inside. But this is what you consciously think, and what happening inside your brain is different and your mind may be tricking you. Because even if you are not aware of this, you probably judging the trustworthiness of a person based on his face. Not only this, but the mind is doing this even when you cannot consciously see it, as was discovered by a team of scientists.

 

“Our findings suggest that the brain automatically responds to a face’s trustworthiness before it is even consciously perceived,” explains Jonathan Freeman, an assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Psychology and the study’s senior author.

“The results are consistent with an extensive body of research suggesting that we form spontaneous judgments of other people that can be largely outside awareness,” adds Freeman, who conducted the study as a faculty member at Dartmouth College.

The researchers focused on the workings of the brain’s amygdala, a structure that is important for humans’ social and emotional behavior. Previous studies have shown this structure to be active in judging the trustworthiness of faces. However, it had not been known if the amygdala is capable of responding to a complex social signal like a face’s trustworthiness without that signal reaching perceptual awareness.

To gauge this part of the brain’s role in making such assessments, the study’s authors conducted a pair of experiments in which they monitored the activity of subjects’ amygdala while the subjects were exposed to a series of facial images.

These images included both standardized photographs of actual strangers’ faces as well as artificially generated faces whose trustworthiness cues could be manipulated while all other facial cues were controlled. The artificially generated faces were computer synthesized based on previous research showing that cues such as higher inner eyebrows and pronounced cheekbones are seen as trustworthy and lower inner eyebrows and shallower cheekbones are seen as untrustworthy.

“These findings provide evidence that the amygdala’s processing of social cues in the absence of awareness may be more extensive than previously understood,” observes Freeman. “The amygdala is able to assess how trustworthy another person’s face appears without it being consciously perceived.”

This is part of being human after all. We have our ancient defense mechanism to assure our survival in a tough world. And being able to asses the trustworthiness of a new person very fast was important. And it still is. We just need to be aware of this “limitation” and think again when we consider someone trusty right away. After all, looks can be deceiving 😉 Also, another important lesson from this study is to always be aware about how you look, even if people say that is not important, it is.

Image courtesy of sciencedaily.com

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