QIMR Berghofer

Facial Trustworthiness is Associated with Heritable Aspects of Face Shape


Facial trustworthiness is thought to underlie social judgements in face perception, though it is unclear whether trustworthiness judgements are based on stable facial attributes. If this were the case, we could expect a genetic component of facial trustworthiness. From facial photographs of a large sample of identical and nonidentical twins and siblings (1320 individuals), we tested for genetic variation in facial trustworthiness and genetic covariation with several stable facial attributes, including facial attractiveness, two measures of masculinity, and facial width-to-height ratio. We found a significant genetic component of facial trustworthiness in men (but not women), and significant genetic correlations with the stable morphological facial traits of attractiveness (positive), perceived masculinity (negative), and facial width-to-height ratio (negative). However, there was no significant genetic or shared environmental correlation between facial trustworthiness and an objective masculinity score based on facial landmark coordinates, despite there being a significant phenotypic correlation. Our results suggest that heritable facial traits influence trustworthiness judgements.

Authors Lee, Anthony J.; Wright, Margaret J.; Martin, Nicholas G.; Keller, Matthew C.; Zietsch, Brendan P.
Pages 351-364
Volume 3
Date 1/12/2017
Grant ID 705478
Funding Body European Union
URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=10.1007/s40750-017-0073-0