Facial attractiveness impressions precede trustworthiness inferences: lower detection thresholds and faster decision latencies

Cognition and Emotion 33 (2):378-385 (2019)
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Abstract

ABSTRACTPrior research has found a relationship between perceived facial attractiveness and perceived personal trustworthiness. We examined the time course of attractiveness relative to trustworthiness evaluation of emotional and neutral faces. This served to explore whether attractiveness might be used as an easily accessible cue and a quick shortcut for judging trustworthiness. Detection thresholds and judgment latencies as a function of expressive intensity were measured. Significant correlations between attractiveness and trustworthiness consistently held for six emotional expressions at four intensities, and neutral faces. Importantly, perceived attractiveness preceded perceived trustworthiness, with lower detection thresholds and shorter decision latencies. This reveals a time course advantage for attractiveness, and suggests that earlier attractiveness impressions could bias trustworthiness inferences. A heuristic cognitive mechanism is hypothesised to ease processing demands by relying on simple a...

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