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Researchers at Charles University in the Czech Republic have determined that a person’s eye color may influence how trustworthy we think they are.
Participants rated 40 male and 40 female photographs for trustworthiness, attractiveness and dominance. The researchers found that participants were more likely to rate a face as trustworthy if they had brown eyes.
However, in order to test it was actually brown eyes and not some other facial characteristic that was the influencing factor, the scientists tried a second test where participants were presented with two identical faces except for their eye color. In this case, both eye colors were found to be equally trustworthy, which suggests that it was the facial characteristics associated with brown eyes, rather then the color itself, that make them appear more trustworthy.
“We concluded that although the brown-eyed faces were perceived as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones, it was not brown eye color per se that caused the stronger perception of trustworthiness but rather the facial features associated with brown eyes,” write the authors in their paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.
More rounded male faces, with bigger mouths and larger chins, were seen as more trustworthy than narrow ones. The results for female faces showed the same trend but were not significant.
The researchers believe that blue-eyed people are more likely to have facial characteristics that are associated with untrustworthiness.
“Blue-eyed male faces were characterized by a more angular and prominent lower face, a longer chin, a narrower mouth with downward-pointing corners, relatively smaller eyes, and rather distant eyebrows. This was also the pattern of an untrustworthy face,” write the authors
“In contrast, brown-eyed faces tended to have a rounder and broader chin, a broader mouth with upward-pointing corners, relatively bigger eyes, and eyebrows closer to each other. This was also the pattern of a trustworthy face.”