Science Says Children Are Less Likely To Trust ‘Ugly’ People

When it comes to snap judgments, adults aren’t the only ones who seem to have a prejudice.

A new study from the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that children are more likely to rate someone as trustworthy if they find that person to be attractive. This phenomenon is called the “beauty stereotype,” whereby more attractive people are more likely to be perceived as smarter, more sociable and more successful, even receiving better treatment from their peers and, evidently, preference from newborn babies.

Researchers of the study generated 200 images of male faces and asked participants to rate how trustworthy they thought each face was. One month later, participants were shown the same faces, but this time they were asked to rate how their attractiveness. They found a strong, direct relationship between the two traits: the faces that people found more trustworthy were also considered to be more attractive. This relationship also seems to strengthen with age.

Because people use facial cues to make judgments, it seems they find the first impression of what someone looks like as a good indicator of their trust. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but science shows that we stick very closely to that adage.

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