Examining the durability of incidentally learned trust from gaze cues


In everyday interactions we find our attention follows the eye gaze of faces around us. As this cueing is so powerful and difficult to inhibit, gaze can therefore be used to facilitate or disrupt visual processing of the environment, and when we experience this we infer information about the trustworthiness of the cueing face. However, to date no studies have investigated how long these impressions last. To explore this we used a gaze-cueing paradigm where faces consistently demonstrated either valid or invalid cueing behaviours. Previous experiments show that valid faces are subsequently rated as more trustworthy than invalid faces. We replicate this effect (Experiment 1) and then include a brief interference task in Experiment 2 between gaze cueing and trustworthiness rating, which weakens but does not completely eliminate the effect. In Experiment 3, we explore whether greater familiarity with the faces improves the durability of trust learning and find that the effect is more resilient with familiar faces. Finally, in Experiment 4, we push this further and show that evidence of trust learning can be seen up to an hour after cueing has ended. Taken together, our results suggest that incidentally learned trust can be durable, especially for faces that deceive.

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70(10), 2060-2075