The Robustness of Learning about the Trustworthiness of Other People

Virginia Falvello, Michael Vinson, Chiara Ferrari, Alexander Todorov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


A single behavioral statement about a person is sufficient to form trustworthiness associations with the person's face. In three experiments, we tested the limits of these associative processes. Participants were presented with 100 to 500 face-behavior pairs (intermixed with place images so that all participants saw 500 images and descriptions) and then judged a subset of the faces. Participants rated faces paired with positive behaviors as more trustworthy than faces paired with negative behaviors. This effect was as strong after 100 as after 400 face-behavior pairs (Experiment 1). In subsequent experiments, we tested whether similar associative effects could be obtained for places (Experiment 2) and competence-related behaviors (Experiment 3). Although we expected that the associative effects would be stronger for faces than places and for morality- Than competence-related behaviors, we obtained similar effects. The findings suggest that trustworthiness associations are based on global affect-based inferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-386
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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