Having a average-looking face makes you appear more trustworthy

Posted December 29, 2014 by feroshwolic

How it pays to be a Plain Jane: Having a average-looking face makes you appear more trustworthy

How it pays to be a Plain Jane: Having a average-looking face makes you appear more trustworthy

Being described as average-looking might not sound like much of a compliment, but having a ‘typical’ face means people trust you more.

Psychologists created a scale of faces, ranging from unattractive to attractive, and found those around the half-way point were rated as the most trustworthy.

The experts believe that we are more comfortable with familiar faces because we are tuned to fear the unknown and unusual.

Lead researcher Carmel Sofer, from Princeton University said: ‘Face typicality likely indicates familiarity and cultural affiliation.

‘As such, these findings have important implications for understanding social perception, including cross-cultural perceptions and interactions.’

For their study, the researchers created a ‘typical’ face by digitally combining 92 female faces.
They also created an ‘attractive’ face by averaging the faces of 12 women who were independently rated as the most beautiful, from a separate set of photos.

The typical face and the attractive face were then merged together, and from this, the researchers created variations that had differing levels of attractiveness and typicality.

The result was a continuum of faces ranging from least attractive to most attractive, with the most typical face in the middle.

To remove gender bias, only women rated the faces on a nine-point scale for trustworthiness or attractiveness.

After each face was rated on three separate occasions, the results showed a U-shaped relationship between face typicality and trustworthiness.

That is, the closer a face was to the most typical face, the more trustworthy it was considered to be.

When it came to attractiveness, however, typicality didn’t seem to play a role.

Participants rated faces as increasingly better-looking beyond the midpoint.

The research is published in the journal Psychological Science.

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Last Updated December 29, 2014