Reading trustworthiness in faces without recognizing faces

Alexander Todorov, Bradley Duchaine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


We show that developmental prosopagnosics with severe impairments in both memory for faces and perception of facial identity can make normal trustworthiness judgements of novel faces. We tested four prosopagnosics on three different face sets. The first set consisted of faces that varied on multiple dimensions and that have been used to demonstrate impairments in trustworthiness judgements of patients with bilateral amygdala damage. The second and third sets consisted of standardized faces with direct gaze, neutral expression, and similar age. On all tests, two prosopagnosics made judgements that closely agreed with control judgements while the other two showed weak agreement but within the normal range. The performance of the tests was correlated suggesting that the tests mapped the same underlying judgement irrespective of the specific face stimuli. The normal performance of two of the prosopagnosics suggests that forming person impressions from faces involves mechanisms functionally independent of mechanisms for encoding the identity of faces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-410
Number of pages16
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Amygdala
  • Face perception
  • Prosopagnosia
  • Social cognition
  • Trustworthiness


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