For children, an individual's trustworthiness is linked to how attractive they find that person. Children may not trust a person if they are less attractive, says a new study.
The findings showed that the ability to make the judgment about one's trustworthiness develops as one grows older.
‘Children rate less attractive people as less trustworthy. The older people get, the more they judge based on appearance.’
Also, girls proved to be better at trustworthiness judgment than boys.
In addition, the children were also found to look to a person's attractiveness as an indication of their character.
People use facial cues to make judgments on a person's character -- and this ability to infer social traits is a crucial part of a social functioning and development, the researchers said.
Although well researched in babies and adults, the development of this ability in children was not previously known, they added.
The study adds to a growing body of work showing that attractiveness is a universal language when it comes to that all-important first impression, said Fengling Ma from Zhejiang Sci-Tech University in China.
For the study, the team assessed 138 participants -- groups of children aged eight, 10 and 12 years old and compared them to a group of adults.
They used a face generation program (FaceGen) to produce 200 images of male faces -- all with a neutral expression and direct gaze.
In the first of two sessions, each participant was shown each face and asked to rate how trustworthy they thought that person was.
A second session followed a month later where participants repeated the exercise, this time, rating the attractiveness of the same faces.
The researchers looked first at the ratings of trustworthiness, and level of agreement of the ratings within and between the groups. Next, they looked at the ratings of trustworthiness and attractiveness given to each face.
They found a strong, direct relationship between the two traits -- the faces deemed more trustworthy were also considered to be more attractive.
This relationship also strengthened with age and shows that like adults, children also look to a person's attractiveness as an indication of their character.