Friend or foe: The effect of implicit trustworthiness judgments in social decision-making

Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
Cognition (Impact Factor: 3.63). 09/2008; 108(3):796-803. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.07.002
Source: PubMed


The human face appears to play a key role in signaling social intentions and usually people form reliable and strong impressions on the basis of someone's facial appearance. Therefore, facial signals could have a substantial influence on how people evaluate and behave towards another person in a social interaction, such as an interactive risky decision-making game. Indeed, there is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that social behavior plays a crucial role in human decision-making. Although previous research has demonstrated that explicit social information about one's partner can influence decision-making behavior, such as knowledge about the partner's moral status, much less is known about how implicit facial social cues affect strategic decision-making. One particular social cue that may be especially important in assessing how to interact with a partner is facial trustworthiness, a rapid, implicit assessment of the likelihood that the partner will reciprocate a generous gesture. In this experiment, we tested the hypothesis that implicit processing of trustworthiness is related to the degree to which participants cooperate with previously unknown partners. Participants played a Trust Game with 79 hypothetical partners who were previously rated on subjective trustworthiness. In each game, participants made a decision about how much to trust their partner, as measured by how much money they invested with that partner, with no guarantee of return. As predicted, people invested more money in partners who were subjectively rated as more trustworthy, despite no objective relationship between these factors. Moreover, the relationship between the amount of money offered seemed to be stronger for trustworthy faces as compared to untrustworthy faces. Overall, these data indicate that the perceived trustworthiness is a strong and important social cue that influences decision-making.

Download full-text


Available from: Mascha van 't Wout, Jan 09, 2014
  • Source
    • "A challenge in everyday life is to figure out in whom you can place your trust. Decisions about whom to trust are motivated by the evaluation of stable facial traits [1], similarity to kin [2], and perceived trustworthiness [3]. The brain mechanisms that underlie social decision making are less well known and have implications for diverse fields of human behavior including healthcare, economics, politics and even the legal system. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Reciprocation of trust exchanges is central to the development of interpersonal relationships and societal well-being. Understanding how humans make pro-social and self-centered decisions in dyadic interactions and how to predict these choices has been an area of great interest in social neuroscience. A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) based technology with potential clinical application is the study of resting state brain connectivity. We tested if resting state connectivity may predict choice behavior in a social context. Twenty-nine healthy adults underwent resting state fMRI before performing the Trust Game, a two person monetary exchange game. We assessed the ability of patterns of resting-state functional brain organization, demographic characteristics and a measure of moral development, the Defining Issues Test (DIT-2), to predict individuals' decisions to reciprocate money during the Trust Game. Subjects reciprocated in 74.9% of the trials. Independent component analysis identified canonical resting-state networks. Increased functional connectivity between the salience (bilateral insula/ anterior cingulate) and central executive (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex/ posterior parietal cortex) networks significantly predicted the choice to reciprocate pro-social behavior (R(2)=0.20, p= 0.015). Stepwise linear regression analysis showed that functional connectivity between these two networks (p=0.002), age (p=0.007) and DIT-2 personal interest schema score (p=0.032) significantly predicted reciprocity behavior (R(2)=0.498, p= 0.001). Intrinsic functional connectivity between neural networks in conjunction with other individual characteristics may be a valuable tool for predicting performance during social interactions. Future replication and temporal extension of these findings may bolster the understanding of decision making in clinical, financial and marketing settings. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Behavioural brain research 07/2015; 292. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2015.07.008 · 3.03 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Given its unique evolutionary and social significance, face perception is probably the most multifaceted visual perceptual skill in humans. In addition to invariant information such as identity and gender, faces convey a large amount of subtle, variant, changeable information such as age (Ishai, 2008), expressions (Fox et al., 2000), intentions (van’t Wout and Sanfey, 2008) and mood (Adolphs, 2003) upon which human observers rely for social interaction and communication. A wealth of behavioral literature posits that this efficient and multifaceted processing of faces is accomplished in a qualitatively different fashion compared to the processing of other object categories. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The aim of the proposed theoretical model is to illuminate personal and interpersonal resilience by drawing from the field of emotional face perception. We suggest that perception/recognition of emotional facial expressions serves as a central link between subjective, self-related processes and the social context. Emotional face perception constitutes a salient social cue underlying interpersonal communication and behavior. Because problems in communication and interpersonal behavior underlie most, if not all, forms of psychopathology, it follows that perception/recognition of emotional facial expressions impacts psychopathology. The ability to accurately interpret one's facial expression is crucial in subsequently deciding on an appropriate course of action. However, perception in general, and of emotional facial expressions in particular, is highly influenced by individuals' personality and the self-concept. Herein we briefly outline well-established theories of personal and interpersonal resilience and link them to the neuro-cognitive basis of face perception. We then describe the findings of our ongoing program of research linking two well-established resilience factors, general self-efficacy (GSE) and perceived social support (PSS), with face perception. We conclude by pointing out avenues for future research focusing on possible genetic markers and patterns of brain connectivity associated with the proposed model. Implications of our integrative model to psychotherapy are discussed.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 08/2014; 8:602. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00602 · 3.63 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "As liars may try to control their expressive behaviors (DePaulo et al., 2003), liars could generally be perceived as less trustworthy. People judge trustworthiness of others very rapidly (Willis and Todorov, 2006), and base their social decision-making on it (van ’t Wout and Sanfey, 2008). People are also especially good at judging someone’s warmth—an indication of the favorability of another persons’ intentions toward us—as compared to their competence (Fiske et al., 2007). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Findings from the deception detection literature suggest that although people are not skilled in consciously detecting a liar, they may intuit that something about the person telling a lie is off. In the current proposal, we argue that observing a liar influences the observer's physiology even though the observer may not be consciously aware of being lied to (i.e., the observers' direct deception judgment does not accurately differentiate between liars and truth-tellers). To test this hypothesis, participants' finger temperature will be measured while they watch videos of persons who are either honest or dishonest about their identity. We hypothesize that skin temperature will be lower when observing a liar than when observing a truth-teller. Additionally, we test whether perceiving a liar influences finger skin temperature differently when an individual is, or is not, alerted to the possibility of deceit. We do this by varying participants' awareness of the fact that they might be lied to. Next to measuring physiological responses to liars and truth-tellers, self-reported direct and indirect veracity judgments (i.e., trustworthiness and liking) of the target persons will be assessed. We hypothesize that indirect veracity judgments will better distinguish between liars and truth-tellers than direct veracity judgments.
    Frontiers in Psychology 05/2014; 5:442. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00442 · 2.80 Impact Factor
Show more