Normally we tend to think that having a ‘ordinary’ face is one of the worst things with which fate can condemn us. However, science does not think so. And according to a study by a group of researchers from Princeton University, society tends to rely more on those with a common face. Does not happen the same with those with unattractive facial features because people trust them less.
‘Face typicality likely indicates familiarity and cultural affiliation — as such, these findings have important implications for understanding social perception, including cross-cultural perceptions and interactions’, says Carmel Sofer, one of the main investigators who have conducted the experiment -published in the ‘Psychological Science’ journal.
To reach this conclusion the researchers created what they considered the perfect ‘typical’ face in digital format. To do it, they used 92 female faces that mixed together, leading to an ordinary face. In turn, they also created an attractive face using the 12 most beautiful faces from another selection of images.
Subsequently, they combined the two resulting faces and created a total of nine faces divided by beauty (from most pleasing to the eye to the least). These images were presented to several focus groups, who were asked to give a grade from 1 to 9 to each picture depending on whether they thought reliable or not. Each participant rated the pictures up to three times, but the result was unanimous: the closer a face was to being typical, the more confidence it provided.
By contrast, those images that had some features considered attractive or very unsightly were rated as less reliable. It did not happen the same when asking about sexual attraction, where the most beautiful faces won the game again to the rest (showing that it is not valued positively to have typical facial features).
‘Although face typicality did not matter for attractive
ness judgments, it mattered a great deal for trustworthiness judgments. By showing the influence of face typicality on perceived trustworthiness, our findings cast a new light on how face typicality influences social perception. They highlight the social meaning of the typical face because trustworthiness judgments approximate the general evaluation of faces. We are interested in how people judge face trustworthiness when visiting other countries and how the locals perceive the visitors’, the researches wrote.