Brown eyes appear more trustworthy than blue

Posted By News On January 9, 2013 - 10:30pm
Brown eyes appear more trustworthy than blue

People view brown-eyed faces as more trustworthy than those with blue eyes, except if the blue eyes belong to a broad-faced man, according to research published January 9 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Karel Kleisner and colleagues from Charles University in the Czech Republic.

The study's results attempt to answer a larger question: What makes us think a person's face looks trustworthy? The authors asked study participants to rate male and female faces for trustworthiness based on two features: eye color and face shape. A significant number of participants found brown-eyed faces more trustworthy than blue-eyed, whether the faces were male or female. More rounded male faces, with bigger mouths and larger chins, were perceived as more trustworthy than narrow ones, but the shape of a female face did not have much effect on how trustworthy it appeared to the respondents.

Thin-plate spline visualizations of the way face shape correlates with eye color (a–f) and trustworthiness (g–i).

(Photo Credit: Citation: Kleisner K, Priplatova L, Frost P, Flegr J (2013) Trustworthy-Looking Face Meets Brown Eyes. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53285. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053285)

To test which of the two features were more important, the researchers tried a third test, presenting participants with photographs of male faces that were identical except for one difference: eye color. Here, they found that both eye colors were considered equally trustworthy. According to the study, "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."

What would be interesting is to see how many people with brown eyes verses blue eyes were part of the research sample. Since more people are going to trust someone like themselves, and there are far more people with brown eyes verses blue, thus the outcome was brown eyes are more trust worthy.

I agree with the previous commenter, especially since the majority of the world's population have brown eyes. This wasn't a very well-designed study if it did not consider the biases (conscious or unconscious) of the participants due to their own eye color. Much has been written about the perceived "otherness" of skin color, the same may apply to eye color.

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