Trustworthiness is a trait we look for when determining whether someone is a friend or foe. It also helps with the social aspects of life, including social, economic, and reproductive success.
But how do we determine trust?
While character references might be a good idea, few of us screen potential friends and partners in this way. Most of us kind of go with gut feeling. Or at least that’s what I thought!
Now, according to new research, it seems that we may make the call based on eye color and face shape!
A team of Czech researchers have been exploring which facial markers spark feelings of trustworthiness during our mind’s subconscious profiling. The researchers used 80 photographs of brown- or blue-eyed college science students. The photos were rated based on attractiveness, trustworthiness, and dominance.
The faces in the photographs were also analyzed based on the distance between the lips and brow, between the left and right cheekbones, and by the width to height ratio of the faces. This was done to determine which facial features translate into trustworthiness and which, if any, facial features are common among blue- and brown-eyed people.
What they learned was that people with similar eye color tend to share the same face shape. Brown-eyed men tend to have face shapes that convey happiness, whereas blue-eyed men, typically have face shapes that convey anger. This is consistent with previous research that showed blue-eyed babies are typically more inhibited, shy, socially wary, and timid than brown-eyed babies.
For the record, the researchers say a brown-eyed trustworthy face contains:
- a rounder, broader chin
- a broader mouth with upward-pointing corners
- relatively large eyes
- eyebrows that are closer together
Compare this with the less trustworthy traits of blue-eyed people, which include:
- an angular and prominent lower face
- a longer chin
- a narrower mouth with downward pointing corners
- relatively small eyes
- distant eyebrows
Interestingly, they also showed that women tend to vote more favorably for other women with the same eye color as themselves, however eye color played no role in men’s decisions.
And the most untrustworthy trait? According to the study having downward pointing corners is a sure give-away of a shady character.
Although the authors admit that much more research is needed, they propose several possible reasons why brown-eyed people are perceived as being more trustworthy than their blue-eyed brethren. Apparently, brown-eyed people represent a “biosocial adaptation that has been established for millions of years. Additionally, brown eyes are one of the preferred evolutionary trait people seek in their mates.
So if you’ve ever been told that you have “one of those faces” maybe now you know why!