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Is your face trustworthy?

Is Your Face Trustworthy?

Researchers here in the US -- the place that loves faces more than anywhere else and invented Instagram -- have found that brain activity changes in response to how trustworthy a person looks, based on just a fleeting look at their face.

Coincidentally, they found out more information about why humans make certain preconceived judgments. The research found that portions of our brain are doing more subconscious work than previously thought.

Jonathan Freeman from New York University stated, "We form spontaneous judgments of other people that can be largely outside awareness."

The study published in the Journal of Neuroscience focused largely on the actions of the amygdala, the small almond shaped part deep inside your brain. The amygdala plays a role in processing strong emotions -- so every time that Starbucks barista gave you a chai tea latte with soy instead of skim milk, that's what's been making you feel that way.

Before the study, Freeman asked a group of individuals to rate whether they trusted certain individuals based on their faces. People surprisingly tended to agree on which faces were trustworthy or not. Apparently faces with several key features like furrowed eyebrows and shallower cheekbones are consistently rated as less trustworthy.

Another group was instructed to lay in an MRI scanner while they saw faces flash on a screen. Each face only flashed for milliseconds -- which is more than enough time for me personally to judge someone. Even though their eyes had small glimpses of the images, they still were unaware they'd seen the faces.

Even because of this, the amygdala still responded differently to trustworthy and untrustworthy faces. That means our brains are quicker at judging than our eyes are.

Freeman also proposed that the biggest question of the study is whether or not the brain activity somehow altered how people behave. He stated, "Even though people might not have conscious awareness, they might move back very subtly when perceiving an untrustworthy face, but that is still unknown."

What do you guys think? Have you ever looked at someone and loved them ... just because?

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Join the discussion

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rockinghorse2k August 17 2014 at 9:47 AM

what a stupid articule an omg could he talk any faster

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3 replies
Kate August 17 2014 at 1:42 PM

When you work in retail, you very quickly learn that preconceptions are wrong nine times out of ten. A person's appearance isn't the slightest indicator of personality, good manners, or trustworthiness.

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skydrop007 August 17 2014 at 7:52 AM

We do know that Obama's is not !!

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4 replies
db1219 August 17 2014 at 6:17 PM

You can not judge a book by its' cover. The same goes for people, too.

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no1midge August 17 2014 at 11:46 AM

IF this has anythign to do with the shape of eye brows, may I point out that many women and some men even pluck their brows to shape them. so how does that effect this study?

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1 reply
Nancy no1midge August 17 2014 at 2:13 PM

The study is about how the brain makes instantaneouspreconceived conclusions about a person. Not that these perceptions are based on any fact or truth. Just that the mind makes them and you are not even aware it is happening. I took one like at GW Bush and immediately did't trust him. WHY? I did't know. I did't kow who he was or why he was on TV. Didn't know he was Pres GHBush son. Just saw a face I immediately didn't trust. Made no sense but there it was. Could I be wrong? SURE but this was a man who had to prove me wrong before I would like him. That is the point. Some people start with a disadvantage because of this instant judgement based on what? cheeckbones? eyebrows? close set eyes? color of hair?

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1 reply
malinda.smith1 Nancy August 17 2014 at 5:18 PM

Well your brain was wrong about Bush. The article says the brain is reacting quicker than the eye, which is absolutely ludicrous because the eye is seeing the image and transmitting that image to the brain FIRST, the brain is unable to make an inference of any kind more quickly because the brain can't see!!! The brain interprets what the eye sees.

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dal August 17 2014 at 9:18 PM

I've been told I have a face for radio.

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blackcoffeeparty August 17 2014 at 12:12 PM

So now our judge a book by it's cover society has an organ to justify the stupid idea that people's trustworthiness can be determined by looks alone.

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2 replies
Nancy blackcoffeeparty August 17 2014 at 1:59 PM

The study say WHY we do it; not that it is right or accurate. It is like profilig. I don't mean this as political but only as a TRUE example. The very first time I saw GW Bush, I said to myself that I would never believe a word out of his mouth. WHY? I did't kow him from Adam. First time I saw Dick Cheney I got goose bumps and thought "I am looking at the face of pure evil." I have ever had that thought ever i my life. Why then? Something in how they held their head, in their eyes, in their smile (or lack of) What? I don't know. I had never seen or heard of either man. I had no interest in politics. Just a first impression of someone on TV. Too many people ARE judged by looks alone. Too fat, too black, too short, too awkward, too nerdie, too old.

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deebeck7765 blackcoffeeparty August 18 2014 at 2:08 PM

Not at all what was said.

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Jan August 17 2014 at 1:29 PM

I do not fully trust
people that will not
look you in the eye's,
nor fully trust those who
use last names other
then their own ethic
group names.
Just saying!

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1 reply
Kate Jan August 17 2014 at 1:44 PM

A lot of people who will not look you in the eye are simply shy. It can also be cultural.

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1 reply
CHUCK Kate August 17 2014 at 10:17 PM

You are absolutely correct. With Native Americans it is considered impolite to look someone in the eyes.

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kbelllavie August 17 2014 at 7:51 AM

Just want to comment on the great job Will Hayes does making science entertaining and interesting
They should get him to teach biology, physics and chemistry - great job! This kid has a bright future ahead.
thanks for making news interesting

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2 replies
PRINCESS kbelllavie August 17 2014 at 3:05 PM

I like Will Hayes but wish he would speak a bit slower so we don't have to read the article to learn what he is racing through.

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db1219 kbelllavie August 17 2014 at 6:21 PM

I'd like to say that Will Hayes is in no way a journalist nor a scientist----he took a stance and THEN wrote about it. This is strictly an opinion piece (of trace). Just like virtually everything else that is published on AOL and called "news".

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juanelan August 17 2014 at 9:54 AM

I have a god friend with a major speech impediment. She's totally afraid of the police. When she was pulled over, she totally froze up and wound up being hauled in. She does not have the impediment with people who she knows.
She confided in me that she knows how to 'read' people. When she speaks and has a block, she picks up on their responses. These cue her and help her in the day to day.
She's good at table poker. And never goes home crying about the hands she was dealt.

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