(461 kB) Smith FG, DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Krupp DB, Conway CA & Welling LLM (2006). Own attractiveness affects strategies in an economic game. BPS Scottish Branch Conference in Perth, UK. November 2006.

Background: In experimental economics, the “trust game” is widely used to investigate economic decision-making in a social context. Participants decide whether to split a small sum of money evenly between self and an opponent or to allow that opponent to decide how to split a larger sum of money. While the presence of an opponent's face has been shown to influence decisions, the participant's own attractiveness may also be a factor. Method: We examined decisions to trust in this economic game as a function of whether each participant could see an image of their opponent's face and whether the participant believed that their image would be seen by the opponent, who would complete the game at a later time and at a different university. We also measured the participants' ratings of their own attractiveness. Results: People who rated themselves as more attractive than average were more likely to trust their opponent when they believed the opponent would see them than when they believed the opponent would not see them. Conversely, participants who rated themselves as less attractive than average trusted the second player to a greater degree when they believed their opponent would not see them than when they believed their opponent would see them. Conclusion: We conclude that people utilise their perceived physical appearance as part of a strategy to predict how others will treat them.

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