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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