A new study has found that kids judge us based on our looks — and beauty wins when it comes to trust.
Many studies have detailed the “beauty stereotype”. We’re often tricked into believing that more attractive people are smarter and better, in one way or another. We also tend to trust attractive people more. Our ability to make this trustworthiness judgment develops as we grow, but kids also aren’t immune to it.
A new study published in Frontiers in Psychology showed that the “prettier” someone is, the more likely it is for kids to trust them.
Dr. Fengling Ma and Dr. Fe Xu of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, and Dr. Xiaming Lu of Wenzhou Medical University, China, assessed 138 participants (kids aged 8, 10 and 12) and compared them to a control adult group. They generated 200 male faces using a face generation program (FaceGen), all with a neutral expression.
They asked the children to judge how trustworthy the faces were, and the adults to judge how attractive a person was. The results indicated a clear correlation between the kids trust and the adult perceived attractiveness. However, it’s not clear if this is an instinctive behavior or rather some social construct.
In cartoons and even movies, the good guys are often prettier, and the bad guys are uglier. I’d imagine this would be the next step, figuring out why kids choose to invest their trust the way they do. Culture may also play a part here. I’d imagine attractiveness and trustworthiness are expressed differently in Europe, Africa and China – especially for kids.
It’s interesting though that children judge a book so much by its cover. So when you find it impossible to bond with a 10-year-old, remember: it’s probably not that you’re doing something wrong, it’s just that you’re ugly.