Incidental learning of trust from eye-gaze: Effects of race and facial trustworthiness


Humans rapidly make inferences about individuals’ trustworthiness on the basis of their facial features and perceived group membership. We examine whether incidental learning about trust from shifts in gaze direction is influenced by these facial features. To do so, we examined two types of face category: the race of the face and the initial trustworthiness of the face based on physical appearance. We find that cueing of attention by eye-gaze is unaffected by race or initial levels of trust, whereas incidental learning of trust from gaze behaviour is selectively influenced. That is, learning of trust is reduced for other-race faces, as predicted by reduced abilities to identify members of other races (Experiment 1). In contrast, converging findings from an independently gathered set of data showed that the initial trustworthiness of faces did not influence learning of trust (Experiment 2). These results show that learning about the behaviour of other-race faces is poorer than for own-race faces, but that this cannot be explained by differences in the perceived trustworthiness of different groups.

Visual Cognition, 25(7-8), 802-814