A Behavioral Study of Face Symmetry and Trustworthiness



Dupuis, Lauren

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First impressions can play an important role in how we judge and interact with other people. Humans often rely on rapid judgments of personality traits and qualities, such as trustworthiness, based on physical features such as someone’s face. Similarly, perceptions of the attractiveness are often made quickly and based on facial features. A common contributor to ratings of trustworthiness and attractiveness is facial symmetry: we tend to find faces that are more symmetrical to be both attractive and trustworthy. There is also evidence of differences between males and females in the use of cues such as symmetry in judgments of faces. This thesis aimed to describe the interactions between face symmetry and the perception of trustworthiness and attractiveness, as well as possible contributions of sex differences in the use of these cues. In this study I created a task to determine the contribution of symmetry to judgments of trustworthiness and attractiveness. The study utilized an online experiment environment, Millisecond. The experiment assessed trustworthiness and attractiveness among faces in a judgment task. Due to technical difficulties we could not collect data from the trustworthiness ratings. However, I did find evidence for differences in the reliance on face symmetry for judgments of attractiveness between males and females. This behavioral research contributes to our understanding of human perception and could potentially be applied to jury selection, among other uses.



Symmetry, Attractiveness, Trustworthiness, Asymmetry, Untrustworthy, Facial judgments