Trust in the adoration of strangers

Attractive people are more trusting when they think they can be seen:

Here, we tested the effects of cues of observation on trusting behavior in a two-player Trust game and the extent to which these effects are qualified by participants’ own attractiveness. Although explicit cues of being observed (i.e., when participants were informed that the other player would see their face) tended to increase trusting behavior, this effect was qualified by the participants’ other-rated attractiveness (estimated from third-party ratings of face photographs). Participants’ own physical attractiveness was positively correlated with the extent to which they trusted others more when they believed they could be seen than when they believed they could not be seen. This interaction between cues of observation and own attractiveness suggests context dependence of trusting behavior that is sensitive to whether and how others react to one’s physical appearance.

Probably rightly so. It’s interesting that people do not get used to the average level of good treatment expected for their attractiveness, but are sensitive to the difference in treatment when visible and when not. Is it inbuilt that we should expect some difference there, or is it just very noticeable?

I wonder whether widespread beauty enhancement increases overall trust in society, and enhances productivity accordingly, or whether favorable treatment and returned trust both adapt to relative position. Does advertising suggesting that the world is chock full of model material decrease trust between real people?

10 responses to “Trust in the adoration of strangers

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  3. I wonder if this would be related to the fact people prefer face to face contact to over the phone contact for difficult conversations.

  4. You HAVE to watch the beautiful-people-live-in-a-bubble episode of 30 Rock.
    **It’s the bubble, Jack explains to Liz, a place where beautiful people enjoy a life of “free drinks, kindness and outdoor sex.”**

  5. the interesting thing actually is that it contradicts the 30 Rock episode. since the experiment shows that beautiful people are aware of the bubble and are only more trusting when they know they can be seen.

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  8. Nathan Helm-Burger

    Perhaps not consciously aware of it though…. How fascinating. It would be interesting to see if a measurable adaptation would occur in the short term by having an average attractiveness test subject spend time with unattractive-rated people, and comparing their pre- and post-test trust-when-observed.

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