Children are more likely to trust an adult with an attractive face compared to an unattractive one.
This is the finding of research by Igor Bascandziev from Clark University and Harvard University that will be published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.
"When learning about the world, children rely heavily on information provided to them by other people," explained Igor, "Previous studies have shown children can be influenced by a range of factors such as whether the adult was correct in the past or if they are familiar to them. Our study wanted to examine whether children would trust an attractive stranger over an unattractive stranger."
A total of thirty-two children aged between 4 and 5 years old were shown twelve photos of white women aged between eighteen and twenty-nine years old. The images had been previously selected, via a group of forty undergraduate students, from fifty-six original images. Only those images that were rated lowest (unattractive) and highest (attractive) were selected for the children's viewing.
Each child was presented with images of six novel objects and asked to name them. Whether the child guessed correctly or not the researcher suggested they ask one of two people. At this point the child was shown two of the photos (one attractive and one unattractive) and asked which person they thought would know the answer. After selecting a photo the child was then shown what each person in the photo said the object was and asked who did they think was right.
The results showed that more children, especially girls, selected the attractive face initially and both boys and girls were more likely to believe the answer given by the more attractive face.
Igor explained: "We see from the results that children and especially girls have more trust in attractive faces, even though there are no obvious reasons why people with more attractive faces would be more knowledgeable about object labels.
"The gender difference could relate to boys not paying as much attention to the initial presentation of the faces or other research has pointed to the fact that females have superior face perception.
"It would be interesting to see future research explore whether children would continue favouring the more attractive face even when they have evidence that the more attractive face is unreliable and the less attractive informant is a reliable informant." Ends
- Igor Bascandziev, Paul L. Harris. In beauty we trust: Children prefer information from more attractive informants. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/bjdp.12022
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