Stirrat MR, Zubko O, Lawson J, Law Smith MJ, Perrett DI, Jones BC & DeBruine LM (2006). Health appearance influences trust judgments. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Philadelphia, PA USA. June 2006.

Choices about entering affiliative relationships are influenced by trustworthiness. Our aim here was to determine facial cues influencing trust. Participants (aged 18-24) playing a "Trust" game decided whether or not to trust faces of peers presented in neutral pose. We tested for associations between the average level of trust of faces and attributions of health, attractiveness, masculinity and age. Trust correlated positively with perceived health and attractiveness for all faces, youth and femininity for female faces only. Perceived health explained the largest proportion of the variance in trust for both sexes. Apparent health of skin patches also predicted trust for entire facial images. Moreover, self-reported skin health by the individuals whose faces were presented predicted other's trust of their faces. We conclude that perceived health is a major factor in driving trust. This may be because association with healthy individuals increases the likelihood of durable future support and reciprocity.

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