The color of our eyes could influence the perception of trustworthiness, suggests a study conducted by Charles University in Prague.
According to researchers, brown-eyed faces are being perceived as more trustworthy than blue-eyed ones. However, it is not just the eye color alone that has a significant effect on perceived trustworthiness, rather the facial features linked to brown eyes, particularly in males.
As part of the study, 80 students (40 males and 40 females) from the Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, having either blue or brown eyes were photographed. The photographs were rated for trustworthiness, attractiveness and dominance by two hundred and forty participants (142 females and 98 males) who were mainly students of faculties other than the Faculty of Science.
The raters, who also differed in eye color, viewed the photographs on a computer screen and judged them on a ten-point scale where 1 meant very trustworthy and 10 very untrustworthy.
An analysis of the ratings revealed that irrespective of their own eye color, all raters perceived the brown-eyed faces as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones, and the results were statistically significant only for male faces.
To determine if facial features played a role in influencing the perception of trustworthiness, the researchers recolored the eyes on the facial photos from brown to blue and vice versa with Adobe Photoshop CS 3 software.
Another group of 106 participants (35 males, 71 females) who were not aware of the alteration to eye color were recruited to judge the recolored photos for perceived trustworthiness.
In the second experiment, faces with rounder and broader chin, a broader mouth with upward-pointing corners, relatively bigger eyes, and eyebrows closer to each other were perceived as more trustworthy by the raters, and eye color of the photos didn't influence the perception of trustworthiness.
There was a significant correlation between eye color and face shape for male faces, say the researchers.
While brown-eyed male faces had a bigger mouth, a broader chin, a bigger nose, and more prominent eyebrows positioned closer to each other, 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.
The researchers conclude 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".
The research findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.
by RTT Staff Writer
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