Your Ability to Size Up a Face Probably Isn’t Based on Experience

If adults assume that their ability to discern trustworthiness, or the lack thereof, in strangers’ faces is a skill honed over a lifetime, they’re wrong. Children ages 5 and 6 made very nearly the same judgments about the trustworthiness of computer-generated faces as adults, and children ages 3 to 4 were off by just a few percentage points, says a team led by Emily J. Cogsdill of Harvard. People make inferences—right or wrong—about strangers’ characters within 50 milliseconds of viewing their faces, prior research has shown.

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